Members of the Maratha community indulging in violence during the recent protests in the state over their demand for quota in jobs and education has led the Maratha Kranti Morcha, which is spearheading the agitation, to adopt a wait and watch policy till November.
While the Morcha has decided not to hold any street protests, it has urged its members to observe a day of fast on August 15 under its programme — ‘Chulla Bandh Andolan’. At Parli in Beed, the epicentre of the agitation, the Morcha has withdrawn its protest and set a November deadline for the government to take ahead the process to provide reservation to the community. By November, the Maharashtra State Backward Caste Commission, which is studying the community’s socio-economic status, is likely to submit its report to the state government, following which, a special Assembly session is likely to be called to discuss the quota demand.
On August 9, the bandh called by the Morcha had witnessed sporadic incidents of violence and arson in parts of Maharashtra with Aurangabad in Marathwada region and Pune district among those affected. Even corporate offices were not spared with Morcha members ransacking offices of several major companies, including Siemens, in Aurangabad.
“The organisation will have no place for the district coordinators who are betraying the cause or are being manipulated managed by some politicians. Our fight is for the rights of poor Marathas. It is not to serve any political leadership or party,” Morcha chief Abasaheb Patil said. The decision also follows the concern that sustained agitation may expose the divide between the rich and the poor within the community, said some Maratha leaders. Sachin Babanrao Sawale of Sirsam village in Hingoli said: “Pursuing higher education in private colleges is the biggest cause of unrest in rural areas. I have taken admission in BSc maths at Bhauraò Patil College. The fees are Rs 1.5 lakh per year in the general category. How will a poor family cope?” Youths constitute 70 per cent of the protesters.
While the government has announced concessions for Maratha students, the colleges are not implementing the directives, said Sharad Londe, also from Hingoli. Similar sentiments were echoed in districts of Beed, Parbhani, Hingoli, Nanded and Aurangabad. At Hingoli, a section of the Morcha has threatened not to allow the guardian minister to host the flag on August 15.
“For any agitation to continue, we need a practical action plan. At present, the youths are driven by passion… they are seeking immediate solutions and taking extreme steps like suicides, which reflects badly on our organisation,” said a Morcha leader.