(Eds: Adding quotes) Mumbai, Sep 9 (PTI) It is a 'black day' for Marathas, the Maharashtra BJP said on Wednesday as it attacked the MVA government in the state after the Supreme Court stayed implementation of 2018 law granting quota to the community in education and jobs.
State BJP president Chandrakant Patil claimed that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, was 'not serious' in ensuring that the quota held its ground before the apex court.
He also charged Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP president Sharad Pawar with not paying attention to the matter.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the implementation of the law, but made it clear that the status of those who have availed of the benefits will not be disturbed.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice L N Rao referred to a larger constitution bench, to be set up by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, the batch of pleas questioning the validity of the law granting reservation to Marathas.
'The MVA could not ensure the reservation held ground before the Supreme Court,' Patil told reporters here.
Noting that the apex court referred the batch of pleas challenging the validity of the law to a larger bench, Patil said now nobody knows when the ruling in the matter will come.
Patil contended that matters referred to larger bench in the past have remained pending for years.
'This means the stay will continue till the bench gives an order. Now there is no point in the community protesting either, because nobody knows when the ruling will come. Therefore, it is a black day for the community,' the BJP leader said.
He said his party had repeatedly told the MVA government to take the issue seriously and prepare well legally for the same.
'The MVA did not want the reservation. Which senior leader of theirs paid attention to the matter? Did Uddhav ji or Sharad Pawar pay attention?' he asked.
'There is a scope to say now that their mindset was such that they were fine if the quota was stayed as they were not serious to ensure it holds ground,' Patil added.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said in a statement that following the court stay on the implementation of the quota, the efforts taken by the previous government he led for the 'all-round development' of the community have been 'undone'.
'The (MVA) government could have kept the quota intact had it taken steps by taking everyone into confidence. But this government has not been serious about the issue from the beginning,' he alleged.
Fadnavis said the BJP stands with the community in its every battle for quota and added it will make all efforts for its upliftment.
Party MP Narayan Rane accused the state government of not willing to give the quota to the community.
'They did not appoint any renowned lawyer to contest their case as they were not willing to give the quota. They appointed two ordinary lawyers.
'The lawyers fell short of keeping forth the quota side and ensuring it remains intact. The state government is completely responsible for it,' he alleged.
The Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018 was enacted to grant reservation to people of the Maratha community in Maharashtra in jobs and education.
The Bombay High Court, while upholding the law in June last year, had held that 16 per cent reservation was not justifiable and said the quota should not exceed 12 per cent in employment and 13 per cent in admissions.
The politically dominant Maratha community, which constitutes over 30 per cent of the state's population, held several protests in the past demanding reservation in jobs and education. PTI ENM GK NP NP