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Maharashtra minister Tanaji Sawant apologizes after drawing criticism over his Maratha quota ‘itch’ statement

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Maharashtra Minister Tanaji Sawant on Monday apologized after his comment over Maratha reservation drew criticism. The Maratha groups and opposition parties had strongly criticized the minister when he mentioned their claim for reservation as an “itch”.

Speaking at an event, Sawant had earlier said that there was nothing on the (Maratha) reservation for two years (after it was stayed by the Supreme Court). Now, after the change of power in the state, there is an “itch” for a reservation. I want it and my next generation wants it

Sawant in his apology mentioned that his role is to ensure that Maratha government gets reservation. He said, “If my statement has offended the Maratha community then I am apologizing to the Maratha community. My role is to ensure that the Maratha community gets the reservation.”

The Supreme Court had, in May last year, struck down a Maharashtra law giving reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and education by terming it as unconstitutional and holding there were no exceptional circumstances to breach the 50 per cent reservation cap set by the 1992 Mandal verdict.

“We will not sit quietly till the time we give it (reservation). Our leaders, Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis, will ensure reservations as per our demand. They will not sit quiet till reservation is granted, “Sawant, part of Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena, added.

Sawant was referring to recent protests by the Maratha community seeking reservations. His remarks drew strong reactions from the Maratha community as well as political parties. Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole said the statement was objectionable and irresponsible and sought Sawant’s sacking.

Patole also sought the views of Shinde and Fadnavis on what Sawant had said. Under fire, Sawant later apologised and said he had no intention of hurting the sentiments of the Maratha community.

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