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

Public Health Minister Tanaji Sawant, who is part of the Shinde camp, stoked a controversy after he claimed that following the assumption of power by the Shinde Fadnavis government there is an ‘’itch’’ for a reservation. After scathing attacks by the pro Maratha reservation organisations, NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena, Sawant apologised. He went on to add that he has been an ardent advocate of reservation for the Maratha community which is not developed, and as the minister he would see that the Maratha community gets the quota or else will resign. Sawant was referring to recent protests by the Maratha community seeking reservations.

‘’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 had said in his address to the Shinde camp supporters. He further added that he wants that the Maratha should get the reservation which will be permanent.

Sawant in his apology mentioned that his role is to ensure that the Maratha community 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.”

“We will not sit quietly till the time we give the reservation. Our leaders, Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis, will ensure reservations as per our demand. They will not sit quietly till reservation is granted,’’ said Sawant.

The state Congress chief Nana Patole party demanded that Sawant should be immediately sacked from the cabinet for making an irresponsible and objectionable statement. Patole also sought the views of Shinde and Fadnavis on what Sawant had said.

The NCP legislator Dhananjay Munde claimed that the people can take away Sawant’s ministerial post forever. Former Mumbai mayor and Shiv Sena leader Kishori Pednekar said That Sawant has insulted the Maratha community which has been aggressively pursuing the restoration of quota.

Interestingly, Revenue Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who is a senior BJP leader, admitted that Sawant’s statement was unfortunate and he should not have made it.

The Maratha Kranti Morcha coordinator Vinod Patil said Sawant should be reprimanded by CM and DCM.

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