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Maharashtra: Cracks appearing in Maratha quota protest

Updated on: 22 February,2024 07:14 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore |

Activist Ajay Maharaj Baraskar has accused quota activist Manoj Jarange Patil of lying and misleading the Marathas

Maharashtra: Cracks appearing in Maratha quota protest

Ajay Maharaj Baraskar, activist (right) Manoj Jarange Patil, Maratha activist

Key Highlights

  1. After Manoj Jarange declared intent to intensify agitation, protest started showing cracks
  2. Ajay Maharaj Baraskar, accused Jarange of misleading the Marathas
  3. Jarange appealed to the community to strike the government hard

A day after Manoj Jarange Patil declared his intent to intensify the agitation for a quota for Marathas from the other backward class (OBC) quota instead of an independent share of 10 per cent that was given through a new law on Tuesday, the protest started showing cracks. Another activist, Ajay Maharaj Baraskar, accused Jarange of misleading the Marathas by lying and becoming a pawn in the hands of the powerful.

On Wednesday, Jarange appealed to the community to strike the government hard if a decision to give the blood relatives of eligible Marathas a Kunbi certificate was not taken by February 23. He asked that roads be blocked so exam-going students were not inconvenienced; an indefinite hunger strike by the elders, and banning politicians from entering their homes ahead of the polls.

“It will be the most humiliating blow for Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis if the old people, especially the grandparents of deprived Maratha students, sit on an indefinite hunger strike. The deaths, if any, would entirely be their (CM and DCM's) responsibility,” he said in Antarwali Sarati. When asked by the audience why he had spared the other DCM AJit Pawar, Jarange said that he did not deliberately mention Pawar because the politician was not concerned about anything (related to the Maratha demand or agitation).

Jarange said it would be appropriate if the Election Commission delayed elections in Maharashtra till the Maratha quota within the OBC was finalised. In case the elections are announced next month, the Marathas must honour the model code of conduct, but not allow political parties to campaign by seizing their vehicles, Jarange advised.

Liar, liar...

While Jarange went after the government, Baraskar said he had decided to 'expose' the activist for misleading Marathas, who have the largest numerical strength in the state. “Jarange is a liar of the highest order. He is not transparent in his conduct. He changes tack in no time. He is spreading social hatred...” Baraskar told a media conference in Mumbai on Wednesday.

“Kill me, but I will speak the truth. I will not say Jarange is a Patil [a title that denotes respect and authority] because he doesn't deserve the honour,” he said, adding that he has witnessed every act of Jarange, who had secret meetings with government officials and others. “Jarange is not only a liar but also an actor of the highest order. He should be given an Oscar.”

Baraskar wanted to know the huge financial support Jarange's agitation has been getting. “Mostly, the Marathas are poor and take part in the protest. Where does he get the money for all these arrangements? There is no transparency,” he added.

Baraskar said Jarange had secret meetings with government officials at several places on his way to Mumbai last month. “We had objected to a closed-door meeting in Lonavala. Jarange kept all of us and the community in the dark. He did all possible tricks to hog publicity and force CM Eknath Shinde to come over to him to break the protest in Vashi.”

According to Baraskar, he fell out because Jarange had abused Sant Tukaram, a reformist religious figure. “I will be happy to be killed [by those who have threatened him for speaking against Jarange] for Tukaram Maharaj...”

Government trap: Jarange

In response, Jarange said Baraskwar was the government's agent, but admitted that he had said something wrong about Tukaram Maharaj in a fit of anger. “I admit it and I'm ready for atonement.” Jarange said, “Allegations against me are a government trap. Baraskar is using Tukaram Maharaj's name against me. They want me out and to leave the agitation to the people of their choice. They want people who will be happy with a 10 per cent quota instead of an OBC reservation.” Jarange said he expected many more such 'traps' to be set up to weaken the Maratha quota struggle. 

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