For the last 18 days, Abasaheb Patil, a resident of Pune, has been protesting at Parli in Maharashtra’s Beed district, demanding quota in jobs and education for the Maratha community.
Patil, a businessman and contractor, joins hundreds of Maratha Kranti Morcha protesters everyday on the sprawling ground opposite the tehsil office in Parli. They are calling the protest, ‘Thiya Andolan’.
The venue has become the new rallying point of the Maratha quota stir. Efforts are under way, through social media, to mobilise school and college students from across the state to come and participate in the protests.
The protesters are from various districts. Rambhau Gaikwad has come all the way from Pandharpur and has been participating in the protests at Parli for a fortnight. Jyoti Sapate has come from Osmanabad. Sachin Zate, who is in the Army and is posted in West Bengal, has taken leave to participate in the protests.
At regular intervals, groups of youths climb a makeshift stage to deliver brief speeches to highlight what they term injustice meted to the Marathas and pledge to continue the agitation till the government concedes to their demands.
At a makeshift kitchen, at least a dozen women are preparing meals round the clock. Every protester is provided breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Patil said the community would likely organise street shows across Maharashtra on August 9 in support of their demands. “Maratha families will lock their houses and come out on the street. We will also bring our farm animals,” he warned. The agitation will be called ‘Ghar band’ (House Closed), he said. Patil said, “We want the government to scrap the cabinet sub-committee led by Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil. He has let down the Marathas. Instead, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis should take command of a new cell specially created for Marathas headed by an able IAS officer.
At least such a cell will enable us to place our views and pursue them to the logical end.” The government should put a stay on the ongoing recruitment job or accommodate Marathas, he added. The ongoing agitation is a clear departure from the 58 silent Maratha rallies held in 2016-17.