THE Maratha community, which is agitating in different parts of the state after the Supreme Court stay on reservations, has decided to intensify the protests from Monday but members have been urged to observe restraint and shun violence.
The Maratha Kranti Morcha, which is spearheading the agitation, said there was widespread resentment in the community. “The community believes the state government failed to present its case effectively before the apex court,” said Rajendra Kondhare, one of its key coordinators.
“The priority for the government now should be to file a review petition in the Supreme Court on the interim stay.”
“On Sunday, there were reports of agitations in Nanded and Kolhapur. Last week, at some places, buses were stoned and in others, roads were blocked by burning tyres. But we do not want any kind of violence. We want to appeal to Maratha youths to not resort to any kind of violence.
We can make our point by holding demonstrations before district collectorates,” said Kondhare.
“Because of poor coordination, we believe lawyers could not come up with a strategy to counter the arguments against Maratha quota. We are trying to find out where the government actually went wrong. But we think the government failed on coordination and strategy front,” he said. It seems the government was “overconfident” that there would be no stay by the apex court, he added.
At a meeting held in the city on Sunday, coordinators decided to present a memorandum of their demands to the district collector. At least 50 coordinators attended the meeting, physically or online. Kondhare urged the government to frame a proper plan on admissions to Class 11 and 12. “The government should take urgent steps to protect the admissions given before the SC order. At the same time, it should discuss with experts the fate of admissions after the stay,” he said.
Dhananjay Jadhav, a coordinator, said, “Minister Dhananjay Munde used to aggressively support Maratha quota when he was in Opposition.
But now, why is he keeping quiet?”
Tushar Kakade, another coordinator, said, “From 1995, several castes were included under OBC quota because of the insistence of a few leaders. And those well-to-do castes are enjoying reservations. In contrast, the Gaikwad Commission gave a report based on scientific analysis pointing out that the Maratha community is socially and educationally backward. The High Court upheld the recommendations. However, the government fell short of expectations of the community in the Supreme Court.”
Coordinator Maruti Bhapkar said when the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court referred the petitions challenging the Maratha reservation to a Constitution bench, it found merit in the arguments of senior lawyers that a larger Constitution bench should examine the issue. “We expect an early hearing and the government to do proper homework to present the case of the Maratha community in the apex court,” he said.
The state Congress condemned the alleged political overtones being given to the issue by the BJP. “BJP leaders are trying to provoke Maratha youths to take to violence. BJP leaders instead of respecting the apex court order are trying to send out a message that it’s all over for Maratha youths. The government presented its arguments before the apex court, which gave its decision. The government is preparing to move the court again to review the stay order,” said state Congress spokesperson Gopal Tiwari.