The Kranti Maratha Morcha has decided to unravel its ‘Plan-B’ once the rallies planned by it across Marathwada, Western Maharashtra, North Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Konkan are over. “The movement is not going to stop at rallies. In the first phase, we have decided to bring Marathas together under one banner, cutting across sub-castes and class. For the next phase, we are ready with our Plan-B,” said a prominent member of the morcha.
Speaking about the second phase, a senior leader associated with the planning of rallies said, “A group of prominent persons across Maratha community will unite to charter socio-economic projects for the Marathas.” Almost two months since the first Maratha rally, it is still a closely guarded secret as to who has the remote control of the entire “movement”. Sources in the morcha said the larger purpose of the rallies was to evoke the spirit of “Maratha asmita”.
“Yes, pride of Maratha is the real objective,” said a volunteer who did not wish to be named. A Maratha leader said, “At this moment, we are not taking any political line, but would focus on social welfare in the second phase.” In a new trend that has emerged, upper castes are putting up huge posters to extend solidarity with the Marathas. At Latur, banners put up by the Lingayat community and Rajputs can be seen.
“There is a consolidation of forward castes with Marathas in every district against reservation for SC/ST. In Marathwada, groups of 18 forward castes have joined hands to support the Marathas,” said a senior Maratha leader. “The frustration of the youth against the six decades of reservation for Dalits/OBCs has helped us unite Marathas and non-SC/OBC,” said Ramesh Pawar, a Maratha farmer in Latur district.
Marathas and others from the middle and lower middle class in rural Maharashtra are upset with the concessions given to Dalits/OBCs in the education sector in the form of relaxed admission criteria and lower fee structure. A systematic building of the movement can be seen, with aggression increasing at every rally.
On August 9, the first rally at Aurangabad was confined to criticising the Kopardi rape-murder of a 14-year-old Maratha girl. In Osmanabad, at the second rally, speakers raised the issue of “misuse” of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention) of Atrocities Act. In the successive rallies held at Beed, Jalna, Nanded and Latur, the tone and tenor became shriller with leaders and volunteers demanding scrapping of the atrocities Act altogether.
Senior Dalit activist Keshav Kamble said, “The real issue is Marathas cannot digest being out of power. Their anger is against the BJP-led government on the political front and also Dalits/OBCs on social and economic fronts.”
Ramrao Gawali, founder of Dalit Panther, observed, “There is an uneasy calm in rural Maharashtra as Dalits/OBCs will become more vulnerable with the assertion of Marathas. The state government should come out with a white paper on the number of atrocities cases filed by Dalits against Marathas and what action has been taken so far. I can challenge not a single Maratha individual has been arrested under the atrocities Act. On the other hand, it is often the Maratha leaders who misuse the Act to settle scores against their Maratha rivals in villages.”