The government is planning a multi-pronged socio-economic strategy to tackle the unrest among the Maratha community across Maharashtra. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Tuesday chaired a marathon meeting of senior ministers, MLAs and MPs from the state to discuss the Maratha rallies, those that have already taken place and those being planned in the coming days. While associating himself with the cause of the Maratha community, Fadnavis said, “The rallies mirror the unrest in the community over their long-pending demands for the past six decades. My government is sensitive to their concerns and would certainly provide solutions to their problems.”
The consolidation of Marathas through the rallies is emerging as a big challenge to the ruling BJP government in Maharashtra. While expressing gratitude to the rally organisers for the silent and non-violent demonstrations, Fadnavis said, “My government is guided and governed by the blessings of the great Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. And my government is committed in letter and spirit by the guidelines of the Constitution of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.”
Elaborate discussions at the closed-door meeting saw the leaders drawing up strategy to initiate dialogue at various levels with the Maratha community. While acknowledging that the entire issue should be perceived in the context of the challenges in the field of education and employment to the generation next Marathas, the government plans to cater to the economically backward within the community.
Reiterating its commitment to the issue of reservation for Marathas, which is entangled in court, the government believes it should provide alternatives to the needy and poor within the community. Agriculture and industrial reforms backed by skill development programme, it believes, can help the poor and generation next Marathas.
At least half-a-dozen rallies in Aurangabad, Parbhani, Jalna, Beed et al have passed without incident. The Maratha Kranti Morcha is planning many more rallies in the next two months.
The Marathas’ demand for a review of the Atrocities Act has become a ticklish issue inviting sharp reaction from the Dalits and Other Backward Castes, who perceive it as a plot to undermine their security rights enshrined in the Constitution. Several leaders from Nanded, Solapur and Nashik have expressed concerns over polarisation between Marathas and Dalits/OBCs.
Taking a pro-active role, Dalit leaders from Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh’s Prakash Ambedkar to Union minister and RPI leader Ramdas Athavale have appealed to Dalits against taking to the streets to counter Marathas. At various forums, prominent leaders are appealing to the Maratha community and Dalits to guard against vested interests.