Marathas take to Mumbai roads with their 58th protest march. No concrete assurance from state govt yet
After 57 futile protest rallies for various demands, the Maratha community in Maharashtra took out their 58th protest march today (Wednesday). The outcome, however, was the same.
The organisers had expected that more than a crore of people from across the state would participate in the march. However, it turned out to be a damp squib as, according to police, the total number was just around five lakh.
All the Maratha leaders across political parties, supported the protest rally and alleged that the government was delaying implementation of reservation for the community. However, none of them could justify, when confronted, how they expected the government to expedite a matter when it is pending in the court of law. They only wanted the government to table a one-line proposal in the House to announce reservation to Maratha community.
Like it has been the practice of their silent protest marches till now, people from the community gathered at Azad Maidan in Mumbai with determination to get concrete assurance on reservation and other demands. The delegation of four girls met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and handed over the memorandum of demands.
Fadnavis assured full support to the demand of reservation, a hostel for students from the community in all the districts and scholarships for 605 different courses.
Satisfied by Fadnavas' assurances the march was called off. As it has happened on the last 57 occasions, this time also the protestors did not get any concrete assurance and were satisfied with Fadnavis' support.
Despite what the police had to say, media coordinator of the Maratha Kranti Morcha Bhaiya Patil, claimed that around 50 lakh people participated in the march. However, he could not justify the number and said, “The administration ensured that people did not reach Azad Maidan. Police too, ensured that people faced trouble and were deterred from going there. They even detained water tankers bringing water for the people participating in the march. This has resulted in huge discontent among Maratha community.”
He also said that the government has not given any concrete assurance on the demands.
While the people from Maratha community took to the roads of Mumbai, Maratha MLAs across parties protested in the Assembly. The leaders tried to corner CM Fadnavis on the issue of Maratha reservation and demanded that the government should table the proposal.
“This government is doing nothing to announce reservation for the Maratha community, except wasting time. The decision on the matter can be taken in no time...We will not settle for anything less than the announcement of Maratha reservation in the House,” said NCP MLA Ajit Pawar.
Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil too echoed Pawar's thoughts. However, he conveniently dodged the question as to how the government could take the decision when the matter is pending at Bombay High Court.
Speaking in the House, later, Fadnavis said, “The government was in favour of reservation to Maratha community and will not leave any stone unturned to implement it. The state government will sanction Rs 5Cr each to construct a hostel for Maratha community at each district place. Students from Maratha community will get a scholarship in 605 different courses. The government will start skill development and training schemes for farmers’ children. The scheme has already been approved by the central government, it will benefit more than 3 lakh students in the state. The case in Kopardi rape and murder is in final stages and the judgment will be announced soon.”
While the delegation that met the CM and other leaders of the community were satisfied with the outcome of the meeting and the assurances given, the Opposition leaders are still unhappy.
The Leader of Opposition in state legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said, “The government has done nothing despite Maratha community took out 57 rallies across the state. Now we don’t want any discussion, only the decision on Maratha reservation.”
Congress MP and president of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) Ashok Shavhan said, “Government took more than a year to file an affidavit in the Bombay High Court regarding its stand on Maratha reservation. It has done nothing in three years, this is nothing but time killing gimmick.”