Maratha Reservation Row: Maharashtra Govt In A Bind As Thousands Join Manoj Jarange-Patil On Day 1 Of His Long March To Mumbai

Maratha Reservation Row: Maharashtra Govt In A Bind As Thousands Join Manoj Jarange-Patil On Day 1 Of His Long March To Mumbai

Patil bid a tearful adieu to his village and vowed that he will not return till the goal of Maratha reservation is achieved.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Saturday, January 20, 2024, 09:20 PM IST
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Maratha Reservation Row: Maharashtra Govt In A Bind As Thousands Join Manoj Jarange-Patil On Day 1 Of His Long March To Mumbai | ANI

A 41 year-old man, who was an unknown quantity in Maharashtra until a few months ago, has got the Shinde government on the tenterhooks. The massive support which  the apolitical Maratha activist Manoj Jarange Patil was able to mobilise on Saturday, the very first day of his long march from his village Antarvali Sarati in Jalna district to Mumbai, has sent the government scurrying for cover. 

Thousands of Marathas join Patil

Thousands of  Marathas, mostly youths, joined him on his 400-km long march. Most politicians were simply stunned by the massive support which Jarange Patil, who has no political base whatsoever, was receiving from the Maratha masses. 

Chief minister Eknath Shinde held discussions with his cabinet colleagues and was supposed to telephonically contact the Maratha leader. But, there was no confirmation of the same. 

Government in tangle

The government has considered all permutations and combinations to come out with a solution to the problem of Maratha reservation, but has been unsuccessful because of the 50 % cap which the Supreme Court has placed on reservations. It is banking mainly on the curative petition which it has filed before the SC, but the chances of procuring a favourable order appears to be rather slim in the context of the past orders of the apex court.

Chief minister Eknath Shinde, who is a Maratha himself, tried to issue kunbi caste certificates to Marathas and include them in the OBC category. But, this proposal faced furious opposition from his own cabinet colleague and OBC leader Chhagan Bhujbal. Leaders of OBC castes warned of a massive agitation if their 27 % quota is used to accommodate the Marathas.

Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have sent several delegations to meet Jarange Patil, but have been unable to dissuade him from calling off his agitation. Jarange Patil said he had given seven months' time to the state government to come up with a solution, but in vain. He asserted on Saturday that now it is an "aar paar ladayi" between the Marathas and the state government. He bid a tearful adieu to his village and vowed that he will not return till the goal of Maratha reservation is achieved. He adamant about Marathas being included in the kunbi category and given reservation from the 27 % OBC quota.

Security beefed up along protest route

Police bandobast has been beefed up all along the route from Jalna to Mumbai and the entire march is being video graphed by the police. Jarange Patil's wife Saumitra, daughter Pallavi and son Shivraj joined him at the start of the march. Pallavi warned that if anything was to happen to his father then the government would be responsible for the same. After his series of fasts and mobilisation meetings all over the state, Jarange Patil appeared very feeble. But he is mentally determined to achieve his goal of reservation for his community. A senior BJP leader said, "Jarange Patil is not the usual run of the mill politician. In fact, he does not appear to have a political goal. He has captured the imagination of the Maratha community and there is nothing that the government can do about it now except await the outcome of the curative petition."

Jarange Patil and thousands of his supporters are expected to enter Mumbai on January 25 and on Republic Day they will commence their fast at Azad Maidan. The police have been advised by the government not to use force against the marching Marathas.

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