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Maratha community will teach Mahayuti government a lesson, says quota activist Manoj Jarange

Jarange also said the community has not taken any political stand in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections though there is simmering anger against the establishment.
Last Updated : 11 May 2024, 10:31 IST
Last Updated : 11 May 2024, 10:31 IST

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Jalna, Maharashtra: The Maratha community will teach Maharashtra’s Mahayuti government a lesson for denying reservations and registering criminal cases against protestors, says quota activist Manoj Jarange as the state gears up for the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

Jarange, who hit the headlines for going on fasts unto death several times last year to demand reservation for the Marathas in education and government jobs, also said the community has not taken any political stand in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections though there is simmering anger against the establishment.

The community's anger and unity forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to campaign extensively in Maharashtra, Jarange said in an interview to PTI at his village Antarwali Sarati in Jalna district.

Issuing a thinly veiled warning to the Shiv Sena-BJP-NCP 'Mahayuti' government in the state, he said, "Why were cases registered against those who staged Rasta Roko (road blockade) peacefully, those who launched hunger strikes, held meetings or rallies during the quota agitation last year."

“This was the misuse of the home department. The community will not tolerate it. We will teach them a lesson for sure."

"Because of them (state BJP leaders) Modi had a tough time. He had to hold so many rallies and stay put here. This is because the poor Marathas have come together.....This is the fear of our solidarity," Jarange said.

The Prime Minister has so far held more than 10 rallies in Maharashtra, which sends 48 MPs to the Lok Sabha, during the ongoing election.

The Maratha quota agitation intensified in September 2023 after police lathi-charged protesters at Antarwali Sarati, in Marathwada region’s Jalna district, where Jarange had launched an indefinite hunger strike.

It was followed by violent agitations in Beed and other areas of Marathwada in October, eventually forcing the government to hold talks with him.

Though the government agreed to issue 'Kunbi' (an OBC community) caste certificate to eligible Marathas, his demand that all Marathas be given reservation in the Other Backward Class (OBC) category has not been fulfilled.

"Even a leaf cannot move in Maharashtra (without Marathas). This is why Modi saheb has to struggle. And some BJP leaders are responsible for this. Because of them Modi had a tough time. He has to hold so many meetings," Jarange said.

The community, which comprises 28 per cent of the population, will take some decision 'at an appropriate time', he said, adding that the prevailing sentiment was that those who did not give reservation must not be supported.

He also vented ire at the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).

"Injustice has been done to the community not only by the Mahayuti, but also by the Maha Vikas Aghadi. It is a fact that there is anger. False cases have been registered (against community members), an SIT has been formed, attacks were engineered, and reservation under the OBC quota was not given."

In Jarange’s view, MVA parties Congress and the NCP were in power for so long but their chief ministers, from the Maratha community, did not extend reservation to the community.

Earlier this year, assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar had directed the government to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to conduct a comprehensive inquiry after Jarange made some controversial remarks about Fadnavis.

If the demands are not met, the Maratha community will field candidates in all 288 assembly seats in the state elections due later this year, and they will represent all the communities, the activist told PTI.

A massive gathering of the Maratha community will be held at Narayangad in Beed district on June 8, after the results of the Lok Sabha elections are out, Jarange said, indicating that the agitation will be revived ahead of the state elections.

The quota granted to the politically dominant community by an earlier government was invalidated by the Supreme Court in 2021 on the ground that it caused the total reservation in the state to exceed the 50 per cent ceiling.

Earlier this year, Jarange marched to Mumbai with lakhs of people. Following protests, the Maharashtra legislature in February unanimously passed a bill providing 10 per cent reservation for the Marathas in education and government jobs under a separate category.

However, Jarange is demanding reservation from the OBC quota as he fears the fresh quota law will not stand the legal test. His demand for reservation from the OBC pool is being opposed by the OBC community.

For the first time, Maharashtra is witnessing a five-phase polling. Jalna goes to polls on May 13 in the fourth phase. The fifth phase will be held on May 20.

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Published 11 May 2024, 10:31 IST

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