Despite Uddhav’s appeal, Maratha outfits on the warpath over quota issue
BJP corners MVA government on its alleged lack of political willpower in ensuring that the quota law endured in Supreme Court.by Shoumojit Banerjee
With the Supreme Court staying the implementation of the Maratha quota law, Maratha outfits across Maharashtra have warned of intensifying their agitation despite calls for restraint by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Community leader Suresh Patil said a ‘round table conference’ of Maratha outfits under the umbrella of ‘Maratha Arakshan [reservation] Action Samiti’ (MAAS) would be held in Kolhapur on September 23, while the ‘Maratha Kranti Morcha’ has announced that it will stage a protest outside the Pune District Collectorate on September 17.
“As Parliament is now in session, it is our fervent hope that all the 48 MPs from Maharashtra make a concerted effort and present a proposal before Narendra Modi that would help in vacating the apex court’s stay on the quota law,” Mr. Suresh Patil said.
Failing a strong push by Maharashtra’s elected representatives, Mr. Patil warned that effigies of all 181 MLAs and 48 MPs from the State would be burnt in their constituencies to mark the ire and disappointment of the Maratha community.
BJP slams Uddhav
The opposition BJP, adding fuel to the fire, has cornered the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government on its alleged lack of political willpower in ensuring that the Maratha quota law endured in the Supreme Court.
From Kolhapur, BJP State president Chandrakant Patil yet again hurled barbs on Mr. Thackeray’s alleged ‘ineptness’ in making a strong case for the Maratha quota law to endure in the Supreme Court.
“The Chief Minister sits at home and runs the State … During the hearings on the matter, I am shocked that Maharashtra’s Advocate General (AG) did not personally go to the Supreme Court, but sent his subordinate. The Chief Minister did not even coordinate strategy with other Ministers and legal counsel via video-conferencing,” alleged the BJP State chief.
Mr. Patil said that after the erstwhile BJP government under former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had worked hard to get the quota Bill passed in the Maharashtra Legislature in 2018, and then strove to make the law stand in the Bombay High Court, the MVA had frittered away his party’s hard-won efforts by displaying complete indifference towards this issue.
“The truth is that Mr. Thackeray and his government have neither the willpower, nor any proper coordination and most vitally, no seriousness in granting quota for the community,” he said.
Lashes out at AG
BJP Rajya Sabha MP from Kolhapur, Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje, said it was indeed regrettable that the State’s AG could not even turn up for the video-conference meeting on this extremely sensitive matter.
“The State government has to decide on whether to issue an ordinance or not. But it has to include the opposition leaders in any consultation or committee as well. Why can’t all of us come together on this vital issue?” Mr. Sambhajiraje remarked.
At the same time, he said that both the ruling Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government and the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government must bear equal responsibility for the failure to convince the Supreme Court to permit the law to be implemented.
“This is a legal battle. All MPs and MLAs from Maharashtra must close ranks on this matter to ensure justice for the Maratha community given that 80% of the community are economically backward,” he said, speaking in New Delhi.
In Pune, Rajendra Kondhare, convener, Maratha Kranti Morcha, said activists would be ‘surrounding’ the District Collectorate premises on Thursday and protest while adhering to the requisite physical distancing norms in the midst of the pandemic.
‘Sense of despair’
Mr. Kondhare observed that there was an overwhelming sense of despair pervading among the Maratha community following the Supreme Court’s stay on the implementation of the Maratha quota law.
“There is a pervasive feeling among community members that there was a defect in the original law itself. Thousands of Maratha community students have their admissions stalled. It is the Uddhav Thackeray government’s responsibility to protect them. We will accordingly be submitting a list of our proposals to the Pune District Collector,” he said.
Appealing to protesting Maratha outfits to keep calm, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Balasaheb Thorat reiterated that this was not the time for the opposition or any other outfit to play politics over the issue.
“Some issues have to be resolved jointly. A common front should be the guiding spirit in resolving knotty problems like implementation of the Maratha quota law,” Mr. Thorat said.
Despite appeals of MVA leaders, protests continued to erupt across the State as Maratha outfits threatened to cut loose.
In Parbhani district, activists of the ‘Sakal Maratha Morcha’ demonstrated outside the homes of MPs and MLAs. In Pandharpur in Solapur district, an aggressive demonstration was staged by the Chhava Sanghatana.
On Sunday, Maratha Kranti Morcha activists staged a rasta roko. They threatened to stop milk tankers later this week if the MVA government did not act quickly to ensure that the community received justice.