Gadchiroli (Mah): The Dhangar community and tribals in Maharashtra have launched protests for their demands at a time when Assembly elections are around the corner, state Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said on Tuesday.
"The Dhangar community and tribals in the state have started agitation against each other for pressing their demands on the eve of elections because they feel that this is the right time to do so," Pawar told reporters here.
He, however, added that "In democracy everybody is free to put forward his side and the government cannot desist anybody from resorting to agitation."
The Dhangar community is demanding inclusion in scheduled tribes category and benefits of reservation. But, the tribal community does not want Dhangars in ST category.
To a query, state Home Minister R R Patil, who was present on the occasion, alleged that the BJP was trying to create a rift between Dhangars and tribals for "narrow political gains."
Prior to the press conference, a large number of tribals shouted slogans in front of Pawar`s convoy to protest Dhangar community`s demand for inclusion in ST category.
When asked about the Ordinance issued by state Governor regarding recruitment of tribal candidates only under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, against which non-tribal youth have started agitation, Pawar said, "The Governor is competent to take a decision in this regard."
An additional chief secretary has been asked to look into the demand of increasing OBC reservation and it will be resolved after his report, Pawar said.
On Vidarbha statehood demand, he said if the people of 11 districts in that region demand a separate state, the government will certainly think about it. But, so far there is no such strong demand from the people of Vidarbha.
When he was informed about 97 per cent people voting in favour of Vidarbha state during referendums conducted by some organisations, Pawar said it cannot be accepted until such a poll is conducted by a government agency.
Regarding development of the Naxal-hit Gadchiroli, he said Rs 500 crores have been provided to the district and several programmes taken up and assured that there will be no dearth of funds for the district.
Appreciating the efforts of district guardian minister R R Patil, he said generally in-charges visit their districts only for flag hoisting ceremonies, but Patil has visited Gadchiroli 52 times since he took over as the district in-charge.