No silent march, Marathas plan bike rally in city

Government’s fee concessions to economically backward students has somewhat subdued the unrest.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai | Published:November 5, 2016 3:01 am

The Kranti Maratha Morcha will hold a bike rally in Mumbai on November 6 to convey that it has not given up its agitation for reservation for the community. Yet, in a clear departure, organisers have decided to switch from silent street morcha to a noisy bike rally. The Kranti Maratha Morcha was forced to scale down its protests after the state government’s decision to give Rs 10,000 crore fee concessions to economically backward communities across sections, including Maratha students pursuing higher and professional studies.

A senior Maratha Kranti Morcha functionary told The Indian Express, “The mammoth morcha, which was planned for Mumbai, has been put on hold. Instead, we are holding a bike rally. We expect 15,000 to 20,000 participants from Mumbai and its suburbs.”

He said, “At the moment, the government’s decision to provide sops to students has helped defuse the unrest within the Marathas. However, we will continue to keep pressure on the government to demand the Maratha reservation in education and jobs.”

Senior Maratha leaders pro-active in the morchas said, “To sustain the protest without any backup plan is proving a futile exercise. The main concern of students of the Maratha community specially from poor and rural Maharashtra, was financial aid for higher education. Once the government made adequate provisions complete with lodging and boarding facilities and funds, it would be difficult to mobilise people for the rallies.”

The Maratha morcha, which started on August 9, held 35 rallies across Maharashtra. During the winter session of legislature in Nagpur, a Maratha morcha has been planned on November 14.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, commenting on the Maratha morcha, had said, “The government is committed to Maratha reservation in education and employment.”

Apart from reservation, the government has taken additional policy decisions to immediately help Maratha students in pursuing education. While lauding the Maratha community for its highly disciplined protest, he said, “The government has mobilised documents to establish social and economical backwardness amongst the community to strengthen their case for reservation both legally and constitutionally.”

According to a Maratha activist, “At the moment, we are facing a dilemma on what next after the morcha? Having covered 35 districts across state through silent morchas, we cannot hold rallies every week.” Secondly, almost all the demands placed before the government by the Kranti Maratha Morcha through rallies are under government’s consideration, he added. “The ruling BJP has adopted a resolution supporting 16 per cent reservation for Marathas in education and employment,” he added.

In agriculture, policy reforms along with enhanced crop loans and crop insurance has defused the anger amongst the farmers in rural parts of state. The emotive issue for building a grand statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji on the Arabian Sea in Mumbai is already on the government’s agenda. The process of inviting tenders for the statue project has commenced.