Mumbai, December 27: After After announcing various schemes and initiatives to pacify the Maratha community, Maharashtra cabinet has decided to carve out a separate ministry for Other Backward Classes and some other communities. The new ministry will start functioning from April 1, 2017.
At present the Social Justice Ministry is in charge of welfare schemes for Scheduled Castes (SC), OBC, Special Backward Classes (SBC), Vimukta Jati (denotified tribes) and Nomadic Tribes (VJNT). The budget for the Social Justice department is Rs 5,500 crore.
The OBCs, who constitute 52% of the Maharashtra population and enjoy 27% reservation in education and government jobs, have been apprehensive that the Maratha community could be included in their category.
"Except Scheduled Castes, all other communities will be separated from the Social Justice department and would come under the OBC Ministry," Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said.
When asked who would head the new ministry, Mungantiwar said it won't necessarily be an OBC leader.
"It is the Chief Minister's prerogative to assign the charge to a person he finds suitable," he said.
Social Justice Minister Rajkumar Badole said out of 63 schemes of his ministry, 24 will be transferred to the OBC ministry which will cover 3.83 crore beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil alleged that separate ministry would create rift between various communities.
Welcoming the decision, State NCP chief Sunil Tatkare however said it was NCP president Sharad Pawar who implemented the Mandal commission report for OBCs when he was the Chief Minister in 1990.