Eknath Shinde government got a month's breather to pursue Maratha Reservation on Tuesday, though Manoj Jarange-Patil, the activist who has been on fast for past 15 days, has kept it on tenterhooks by putting up several conditions to end his fast and the agitation.
The demands regarding withdrawal of cases registered against Maratha protesters and suspension of police officials who issued orders to lathi charge Maratha protesters in Jalna on September 1, were already accepted at the all party meeting on Monday. Yet, Jarange-Patil reiterated these demands and pushed for new demands regarding guarantee of providing Kunbi caste certificates to Marathas after 30 days, written assurance from the government on the quota issue, and presence of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his two deputies, Udayan Raje Bhosale and Sambhaji Raje Bhosale at the time he would break his fast.
“I’m giving a month’s time to the government. I shall not move away from this place of agitation. The community should not interpret this otherwise, but we have given 40 years to the government. Let us give them a month more,” Jarange-Patil said.
"We know that if a GR is brought in in a day's time, it won't last in the courts. Hence, I've asked the government whether they promise that after a month the community will get a quota that will sustain scrutiny by courts. I'm ready to do whatever you say," he told his followers at the site of his fast. He also tried to convince them by reiterating facts like the all party meeting was held for the first time where all political parties have resolved to grant reservation to the Maratha community.
Behind the scenes
Intense and precise planning and organization on part of CM Shinde and DCM Devendra Fadnavis succeeded in stopping the fast unto death. In the last six days, a series of planned actions took place behind the scenes. In this arrangement, the role played by district police chief Shailesh Balakwade, who was suddenly shifted to Jalna after the lathi charge on September 1, remained very crucial. The mistakes committed by the administration in handling the stir earlier were meticulously corrected by analyzing the moment by moment movements happening at the protest site. A bridge of communication and trust was created between the administration and the villagers of Antarwali Sarate. Counseling was done indirectly and in a phased manner to bring them to face the reality that it is constitutionally impossible to grant immediate reservation and it is inevitable to give some period for it regardless of the government.
On one hand ministers like Arjun Khotkar, Sandipan Bhumre were communicating as representatives of the government while on the other hand the Jalna district administration was conducting campaigns behind the scenes. Sumant Bhange, Secretary of the Department of Social Justice, continued to carry out the responsibility regarding correspondence and orders of government communication from the Ministry. The movements were carried out according to the planned schedule. The meeting of all party leaders yesterday too was part of the same game plan, which seems to have succeeded at the time being.
Uday Samant to meet Jarange-Patil
State industries minister Uday Samant is expected to meet Jarange-Patil with a letter carrying the CM's special message soon. Earlier in the day Hindutva activist Sambhaji Bhide called on Jarange-Patil and lent support to the agitation. "Jarange-Patil's agitation will certainly be successful. He should end his fast," Bhide said while interacting with the media.
Shiv Sena (UBT) spokesperson Sanjay Raut has criticized the state government stating that efforts to wind up Maratha agitation are going on just to avoid bad publicity for the cabinet meeting scheduled to take place at Aurangabad next week. He also said that if the government is serious, it should pursue the central government to raise the issue in the special session of the parliament and get a constitutional amendment done.