In a resolute and unwavering tone, Maratha community activist Jarange Patil has conveyed a stern message to the authorities. He warns of escalated peaceful protests if the state does not comply with the commitment to provide government job and education reservations to the Maratha community within the stipulated 40-day timeframe. Throughout this discourse, the central theme revolves around securing these reservations without the Marathas having to undergo the onerous process of demonstrating their backwardness, a process that their OBC counterparts are not subjected to.
Jarange Patil’s Claims
Jarange Patil, steadfast in his resolve, asserts that the Maratha community should not be compelled to furnish evidence of their economic and social disadvantage, a requirement that other OBCs are exempt from. In a bid to amplify their demands, Maratha outfits in Mumbai are gearing up for a colossal rally in the near future.
Simultaneously, representatives of OBC organizations have released a summary of their meeting with government officials. This summary reinforces the government’s commitment to safeguard OBC reservations while simultaneously undertaking the verification process to issue Kunbi certificates to the Marathas in central Maharashtra. It is significant to note that the path of agitation charted by the Marathas will not venture into the territory of violence, as emphasized by Jarange Patil during his interaction with the media. Instead, their protest shall intensify in a peaceful manner, posing a challenge to the government’s ability to quell the unrest.
The Maratha activist is adamant about adhering to the 40-day deadline, contending that the government’s promise should be fulfilled within the allotted timeframe. This deadline, slated to conclude on October 24, represents a pivotal juncture for the Maratha community’s aspirations. Jarange-Patil grounds his argument on the assertion that the Marathas have been the backbone of agriculture in the region for decades. In his perspective, this legacy is incontrovertible evidence of their eligibility for reservations based on their economic and social backwardness.
While OBC communities gain access to quotas without the need to prove their backwardness, Jarange-Patil questions the necessity of imposing such stringent criteria on the Marathas. He argues that the OBCs are benefiting from quotas based on their chosen professions, a parameter not applicable to the Marathas. Therefore, the issuance of Kunbi certificates to Marathas should not be misconstrued as a threat to the existing OBC quota system.
Moreover, the distinction lies in the geography, as Jarange Patil articulates, “Our fight is for the Marathas in central Maharashtra.” He seeks the state government’s endorsement of a legal framework based on the extensive documentation collected by the Justice Sandeep Shinde committee, amounting to a substantial 5,000 records.
Notably, the saga of Maratha reservation advocacy has witnessed a sequence of events that led to a hunger strike by Jarange Patil. It was a relentless 17-day hunger strike at Antarwali Sarati in Jalna that eventually ceased, following assurances from Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. The government pledged to reinstate Maratha reservations within a month, prompting Jarange Patil to issue the 40-day ultimatum. Since then, he has embarked on a journey through 13 districts in central Maharashtra, rallying support for the Maratha cause.
The second leg of his tour now extends to western Maharashtra, encompassing vital locations such as Khed in Ratnagiri district, the Pawar family stronghold of Baramati, and Indapur in Pune. The planned massive rally in Mumbai, organized by Maratha outfits, is indicative of the escalating momentum behind their cause. Coordinated by Virendra Pawar of Sakal Maratha Samaj, this event signifies a turning point in their peaceful yet resolute struggle.
While the Marathas are resolute in their pursuit of reservations, the OBC organizations have also put forth their perspective through the release of minutes from their meeting with government officials. These minutes affirm the government’s commitment to preserving the OBC reservation while concurrently establishing a process for verifying and issuing Kunbi certificates to the Marathas in central Maharashtra. Furthermore, the government is inclined towards conducting a caste-based survey of the OBC communities, emphasizing the need for a meticulous and non-confrontational approach to avoid animosity between communities.
Babanrao Taywade, the president of Rashtriya OBC Mahasangh, reiterates the importance of government action aligning with its assurances. With both sides of the reservation debate standing firm in their positions, the onus now rests on the state government to navigate these complex waters, ensuring equitable treatment for all communities while preserving social harmony.
As the deadline looms, Manoj Jarange Patil’s call for peaceful and intensified protests, the impending massive rally in Mumbai, and the OBC organizations’ vigilance in safeguarding their reservations underscore the delicate balance that the government must maintain to address the aspirations and concerns of various communities within the state. It remains to be seen how this complex and multifaceted issue will be resolved, and whether the 40-day ultimatum will bring about the change the Maratha community seek.