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Cracks start showing in the Maratha Kranti Morcha as sides are picked for Maharashtra civic polls

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 20 February 2017, 18:07 IST
(Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The massive silent rallies organised by the Maratha Kranti Morcha shook the Maharashtra government enough to make it take some concrete steps for the community. The battle seemed half won. But now, a message being circulated on social media by a section of the protestors might undo everything the community has achieved so far.

The message being circulated by the Aurangabad division of the Maratha Kranti Morcha is asking people not to vote the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Maharashtra civic polls. The party is charged with not fulfilling the promises it made.

Other divisions of the Maratha Kranti Morcha have distanced themselves from the message, but the cracks within the community stand exposed.

 

How it all began

Keeping up with the glorious history the Maratha community, the humongous rallies held for their demands had rattled the current rulers of Maharashtra.

The massive protests among the Maratha community and the degree of unity shown for the demands – of reservation, capital punishment for the accused in the rape and murder of a minor girl from village Kopardi, Ahmednagar and the amendment in SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act – was phenomenal.

The state government, following the massive silent rallies taken out across the state, agreed to expedite the process to meet the demands of the Maratha community.

In a response, the state government even filed an affidavit at the Bombay High Court to support their demand for reservation. And the accused of the Kopardi gang rape and murder case are being tried in fast-track court at Ahmednagar. The state government has initiated all the steps it could to meet their demands.

Not enough?

Despite the initiatives taken by the state government, the organisers of the Maratha Kranti Morcha continued with their silent rallies across the state. After humongous rallies in cities like Pune, Thane, Solapur, the organisers took out a silent rally at Nagpur during the Winter Session of state Assembly in December last year.

However, it turned out to be a flop show as the turnout was very low.

It was the indication that the massive movement garnered in the name of reservation was losing the impetus as well as the support from the community.

Initially, the Maratha community united for the cause of the caste. The movement was led by community leaders and even the Maratha political leaders were kept at bay to prevent them from hijacking the movement.

In an unprecedented show of unity, the members of the Maratha community, irrespective of their political affiliations and inclinations, had joined hands for the cause.

While the movement was going in the right direction and the end was in sight, the Maratha community now seems to be divided. After almost having won the battle, the Maratha community members have gone back to their respective political parties and ideologies.

Back to square one

Grabbing the opportunity to dominate the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led state government, a section of the Maratha community leaders from Aurangabad have launched a movement to campaign against the BJP claiming that the party has failed to keep the promises made regarding reservation and other issues.

Messages appealing to the Maratha community to not vote for BJP in the upcoming civic elections scheduled to take place on 21 February are being circulated on social media. These messages are said to be circulated by the Aurangabad unit of the Maratha Kranti Morcha and has left the entire community confused.

The central committee of the Maratha Kranti Morcha has denied having taken any such decision. Despite frantic efforts by the central leadership to keep the flock together, the cracks are now visible.

The message circulated by the Aurangabad unit claims that the organisers of the Maratha silent rally held at Aurangabad have decided not to vote for the BJP as it has failed to keep the promise of meeting the demands of the community.

“We have decided not to vote for the BJP in the civic elections as the party has kept the issue of reservation lingering despite assuring to resolve it. The government is not serious about the demands despite millions of people coming to the street and staging a disciplined and silent protest across the state. On the contrary, BJP has tried to divide the Maratha community. We have appealed to the Maratha community voters to vote any party, but the BJP,” the message reads.

The Maratha community leaders have also alleged that the BJP government has not done anything to expedite the process of reservation, and instead, had a major role in striking down the work done by the Narayan Rane Committee, formed by the previous government.

 

Washing their hands off

The other Maratha leaders who had initiated the movement are miffed over the message and are finding it difficult to pacify the community. The anti-BJP message has spread like wildfire in the state.

“Whatever is being spread is not the official stand of Maratha Kranti Morcha. It is a decision taken by few people from the Aurangabad local unit. We have nothing to do with it,” said Bhaiya Patil, media coordinator of Maratha Kranti Morcha.

Despite the clear divide in the community, Patil claimed that they were united and there was no confusion about the demands.

Kishor Shitole, of Sakal Maratha Samaj, who was part of the core committee that initiated the silent rallies across the state said, “It is unfortunate that some people are trying to mislead the community. These people have different political affiliations that oppose the BJP. Since it is election time and they have nothing else to do, a section of the political activists from the Maratha community are trying to exploit the situation for political gains. But the Maratha community is wise enough to take its own decision. Now that the battle is almost won, with mere formalities remaining, some people are going back to their political masters. It is unfortunate that the community is suffering due to this.”

No matter, how hard these people try, they will not be able to dissuade the community now on political lines, Shitole said.

However, no matter how hard the Maratha community leaders try to conceal it – the cracks are becoming prominent.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

 

 

First published: 20 February 2017, 18:07 IST
 
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