Marathas for no violence, govt to expedite commission report

Aug 03, 2018, 08:54 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Protesting groups say no one will discuss issue with government, even as top Maratha personalities hold parleys with CM Devendra Fadnavis who has planned quick solution

Marathas for no violence, govt to expedite commission report
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis flanked by Vinod Tawde (left) and Ashish Shelar and other BJP legislators arrives for the meeting on the Maratha reservation issue at the party office on Thursday. Pic/PTI

The Maratha community will not resort to violence any further, but the protesting groups also said they would not discuss the reservation demand with the government and sit-in across the state. As a counter move, the BJP government has decided to expedite the recommendatory report of the backward class commission to the Bombay High Court, which will decide the quota case.

The Sakal Maratha Samaj has demanded that the BJP government give in writing that the community will be given a 16% per cent quota in jobs and education in a particular time frame.

The perplexing stand was taken by coordinators of the agitation at Parli in Marathwada where a sit-in was being staged since last month. Some prominent personalities of the community met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the Maratha members of his cabinet. The splinters that came together in Parli said in a statement that the government should go to Parli to assure them.

And, in case the government fails to deliver the assurance by August 7, yet another round of protests will start from August 9, they said. However, they decided not to resort to any violent methods such as damaging private and public property, burning vehicles. Instead of being destructive, the agitation would henceforth be a peaceful sit-in across the state, the statement said.

"The Maratha public representatives who do not raise their voice for the demand will be [socially] boycotted. A committee of ministers under Chandrakant Patil should be scrapped immediately and the mega recruitment drive cancelled. The government should also announce a time-bound programme for giving us a quota," said the statement.

Appeal for restraint
Intellectuals, social leaders and artistes from the community have appealed to the protesters to exercise restraint. Some 24 prominent personalities discussed the burning issue with Fadnavis and his cabinet colleagues. The meeting issued a joint-statement reassuring the community of reservation.

"The demands raised through the [peace] marches and protests by the community are just and valid. We appeal to the community to maintain peace," said a joint statement.

However, two important invitees, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, the head of the Maratha royal family from Kolhapur, and historian Jaisignrao Pawar rejected the CM's invitation to the meeting. They told reporters in Kolhapur that the government should have done its job much earlier, following 58 silent marches of the community. Shahu Maharaj's son Sambhaji Bhosale, who is BJP's Rajya Sabha MP, had raised the reservation demand in Parliament.

Historian Pandurang Balkawade, who attended the meeting, told mid-day that the delay in delivering the assurance had caused unrest among Marathas.

Balkawade said the government should treat the issue at two levels — long term and short term. "Quota is not a permanent solution. The Maratha community is largely distressed farmers. Such farmers need a long term solution to improve their economic status," he said.

Fadnavis reiterated the commitment. "We have taken note of suggestions made by the luminaries. We are committed to making a legally tight case at the earliest," he said.

Acclaimed author and research scholar, Dr AH Salunkhe, actors Sayaji Shinde and Amol Kolhe, art director Nitin Desai, industrialist Bhairavnath Thombare, BV Gaikwad, Satish Parab, historian Pandurang Balakawade were among others at the meeting.

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