Maharashtra: Maratha Reservation Activist Manoj Jarange Begins Fast Unto Death; Threatens To Contest Assembly Polls

Maharashtra: Maratha Reservation Activist Manoj Jarange Begins Fast Unto Death; Threatens To Contest Assembly Polls

The police denied him permission for the protest, but he has defiantly commenced the fast in the presence of a large number of fellow Marathas.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Sunday, June 09, 2024, 12:20 AM IST
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Maratha activist Manoj Jarange Patil | X

Mumbai: Maratha activist Manoj Jarange Patil has put the Maha Yuti government led by the BJP on the mat yet again by going on an indefinite fast on Saturday at his village Antarwali Sarati in Jalna district. The police denied him permission for the protest, but he has defiantly commenced the fast in the presence of a large number of fellow Marathas.

He has accused the state government of playing games with the Marathas. He is unhappy with the law passed by the government granting ten percent quota of reservations for Marathas in matters of jobs and education breaching the 50 % cap imposed by the Supreme Court.

This law has already been challenged by a few persons claiming that it was ultra vires of the Constitution and in gross violation of an earlier verdict by the SC. His demand is that Marathas should be included in the Other Backward Castes (OBC) category and given the benefits of reservation.

However, OBC leaders like Chhagan Bhujbal, who is a senior minister in the Eknath Shinde government, have vehemently opposed such a move. Bhujbal, who is the face of the OBC, had even threatened to put in his papers if Marathas were included in the OBC category. His contention is that such a move would further shrink the opportunities for OBCs. The state government had constituted an SIT to ascertain the political forces which were "instigating" Jarange Patil. The committee is yet to make any headway.

Jarange Patil's earlier agitation had had its impact on voting in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections. Of the eight Lok Sabha seats in Marathwada, which was the main stage of Maratha protests earlier, the Maha Yuti lost in seven seats.

Now Jarange Patil has threatened to field candidates in all the 288 assembly seats which are likely to go to the polls in October this year. He is demanding that a law be passed designating Marathas as kunbis so that all of them can derive the benefits of reservation granted to OBCs.

Sources said if the agitation continues the state may witness a caste war in the run up to the assembly polls. He also wants the implementation of the draft notification for issuing certificates to blood relatives (Sage Soyare) of eligible kunbi Marathas. Kunbi, an agrarian group, falls under the OBC category, and Jarange Patil has been demanding that Kunbi certificates be issued to all Marathas, thus making them eligible for quota benefits.

Jarange Patil accused the government of instigating a section of villagers of Antarwali Sarati. A section of villagers had earlier submitted a memorandum to the district administration, urging it to not grant permission to the protest in the village, citing a potential threat to communal harmony.

Before this, Jarange had held the agitation over the quota issue between February 10 and 26. On February 20, the state legislature on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill providing 10 per cent reservation for the Marathas in education and government jobs under a separate category.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, the activist claimed that 57 lakh documents, which prove that Marathas and Kunbis are the same, have been received.

He said that once the target of Maratha reservation is achieved, he would launch a fight to get quota for Dhangar and Muslim communities as well. On whether the Maratha reservation issue impacted the candidates in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha polls, he said his community showed its strength in these polls.

He denied the allegation that BJP leader Pankaja Munde lost the election from Beed because of his appeal to the Marathas. He said that he neither supported nor opposed any party. "I did not favour any candidate nor was against anyone in the Lok Sabha election," he said.

Accusing CM Shinde and deputy CM Fadnavis of obstructing the Maratha reservation process, Jarange alleged that Fadnavis conspired against the Maratha community.

(With inputs from PTI)

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