Mumbai, Dec 27: Maratha outfits are set to resume their agitation for reservation in Maharashtra on the birth anniversary of Maratha warrior king Shivaji, on February 19. Buoyed by the successful Patidar agitation in Gujarat and its impact on the state election, Marathas are planning to relaunch their protest to exhibit their strength ahead of 2019 Assembly polls in Maharashtra.
The Maratha community leaders on Tuesday held a meeting in Panvel where they decided to name their new agitation 19 Se 2019 Tak — from Shivaji’s birth anniversary to the Lok Sabha and assembly elections in 2019. “We have decided to adopt different forms of agitation, by moving on from silent marches, if our demands are not met by February 10. Patidars have shown their strength in assembly elections in Gujarat. We … are set to showcase our power,” Virendra Pawar, one of the conveners, was quoted as saying.
What do Marathas want?
The Maratha community has been demanding reservation in state-run educational institutions and government jobs and scrapping of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act since the BJP government came to power in 2014. The agitation got intensified after the brutal gangrape and murder of a minor girl by three Dalit youths in Ahmednagar district’s Kopardi village on July 13.
The Maratha anger is boiling because of the two reasons — the belief that reservation for SC/STs and OBCs is hurting their job and educational prospects and other communities are decreasing their political clout in the state. One of the reasons behind the Maratha uprising is BJP’s selection of Devendra Fadnavis, a Brahmin, as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra unlike the past when the state was headed by Marathas. 10 out of 16 chief ministers of Maharashtra hailed from the Maratha community as of 2012.
Maratha is the most influential caste in the state controlling the state’s politics, education institutes, sugar factories and co-operative sector. They constitute 33 per cent of Maharashtra’s population and single-handedly decide the results of nearly 75 out of the 288 assembly constituencies of the state. Therefore, no political party in the state can afford ignore them.