While condemning the violence witnessed in Pune on Monday, some key Maratha leaders today sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention into their ongoing agitation for OBC status for their community.
“The Prime Minister remained silent when we took out 58 silent morchas. The world took note but there was not a single tweet from the Prime Minister hailing the silent and peaceful marches,” said Aba Patil, one of the coordinators of the Maratha Kranti Morcha.
Patil is among the agitators holding a sit-in for the last 13 days in Parli town of Beed district. Along with him, 2,000-2500 agitators are staging a sit-in everyday. The Maratha agitation took off 13 days ago from Parli.
Patil said that on Sunday Modi praised the ‘Pandharpur-wari’ in his Mann Ki Baat. “But there was not a word from him about the Maratha agitation which has become a matter of discussion and debate across the country. Why is the Prime Minister not breaking his silence? Will he speak up only when things go out of control?” he asked.
Condemning the attack on buses in Chakan, Patil said that those who attacked “Shivshahi” buses were not Marathas.
“I refuse to believe they are Marathas. The community is the follower of Chhatrapati. We believe in the ideals and principles of Shivaji. We worship him. And if a bus carrying Shivaji’s name is attacked, then the attackers are not Marathas…,” he said, pointing out that the agitation had lost direction and was veering away from his position — of meeting their demand in a peaceful manner.
Maruti Bhapkar, another coordinator, said no leader had control over the agitators now. He said the community had lost faith in Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and only the Prime Minister’s intervention would help restore peace and assuage the community.
“The CM has failed the Marathas. He promised many things but failed to meet even one demand. We don’t have trust in his leadership,” he said.
Calling the violent means adopted by protesters as unfortunate and uncalled for, Bhapkar said that on August 9 a Maharashtra bandh had been announced.
“It will be a dangerous day if the state government and the Centre do not take it seriously. The Prime Minister needs to make an appeal or step forward with concrete promises,” he said.
Justice (retd) B G Kolse-Patil, a prominent Maratha face, said violence and vandalism cannot be justified. “I have already issued an appeal for calm. The agitation has to be peaceful. Our demands need to be placed forward through democratic and constitutional means,” he said. “The Maratha community is confused and aggrieved as the demands raised by them are not being met. Only if the Prime Minister speaks up, it will help restore sanity,” he said.
Pravin Gaikwad, another coordinator of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, said the agitation was losing direction. “By no stretch of imagination can I support the violent methods. The agitation should be continued in the spirit with which the community started it two years back,” he said.
Gaikwad said it was time the President of the country nudged the central government which has remained a silent spectator. “The President has all the powers to ask the Central government to act in the interest of citizens,” he said.
“Nobody would hit the street without reason. Both the state and central governments have failed to keep the promises. This has angered the community,” said Gaikwad.
Purushuttam Khedekar, another coordinator, said, “It seems the Maratha youths are more angry with the Chief Minister. He should apologise for remarks.”
In Aurangabad, Vinod Patil, one of the coordinators, issued an appeal, urging the agitators to continue the sit-in protest and not indulge in violence. “Agitators should not resort to any form of violence and damage public properties. We should continue our peaceful protest,” he said.