Maratha Quota Demand Explained

  • A Maratha activist has gone on a 17-day hunger strike to demand that the Maratha people be given preference in jobs and education.
  • As the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections near, the demand for a Maratha quota is expected to gather traction.

The Historical Background of Maratha Reservation Demand

  • Maratha Origins: The Marathas, historically known as a “warrior” caste, are primarily peasant and landowner groups who account for almost one-third of Maharashtra’s population. They have been the state’s politically dominating community.
  • Reservations are in high demand. The first protest rally in Mumbai in support of Maratha reservation was spearheaded by Mathadi Labour Union leader Annasaheb Patil in the early 1980s.

Recent Happenings

  • OBC Status: The Marathas want to be classified as Kunbis (Farmers), which would entitle them to advantages under the OBC quota. This demand came when the Supreme Court overturned the Marathas’ quota under the state’s Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) Act in May 2021.
  • The Bombay High Court affirmed the Maratha quota under the SEBC Act in June 2019, but decreased it to 12% in education and 13% in government positions to comply with the court’s 50% reservation ceiling.
  • The Maharashtra statute offering quota to Marathas was deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court in May 2021, citing a violation of the 50% reservation cap imposed in the Indra Sawhney (Mandal) judgement of 1992.
  • Impact on EWS Quota: Following the Supreme Court’s judgement on the 10% EWS quota, the Maharashtra government ruled that poor Marathas could not benefit from the EWS quota until the Maratha reservation issue was resolved.
  • In reaction to the demonstrations and skirmishes, the government published a Government Resolution (GR) providing Kunbi caste certificates to members of the Maratha community and referenced to a previous GR from 2004 promising reservation for eligible Maratha-Kunbis and Kunbi-Marathas.

OBC Organisations Oppose Maratha Demand:

  • OBC organisations have resisted the Maratha demand for OBC reservations due to quota shrinkage. They believe that because Marathas are the majority community, they should not be included in the OBC quota, which is already limited in Maharashtra in comparison to the national quota.
  • Reservations are currently separated into several groups in the state, including Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, Special Backward Classes, and others.
  • Political Impact Polarisation: The Maratha reservation issue has resulted in a severe polarisation in politics between the Maratha and the OBC communities. Traditionally, Marathas supported the Congress and NCP, whereas OBCs supported the BJP and Shiv Sena.
  • Adapting Dynamics: Recent political changes, such as divisions between parties and alliances, have changed the political landscape, further complicating the situation.


  • The Maratha reservation issue remains a sensitive and politically volatile subject in Maharashtra, having ramifications for the state’s social and political dynamics.
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