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Maratha Kranti Morcha's silent rallies: Will it actually amount to anything?

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:46 IST

The Maratha community, known to be at the helm of Maharashtra's political sphere since time immemorial, have been hitting the streets for a couple of months now with three major demands. Their rallies have showcased enormous energy until now. But will that lead to anything meaningful is the question.

Rallies in all major cities of Maharashtra brought millions of Marathas onto the streets, demanding:

* reservation in jobs and education

* amendment in the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Atrocities Prevention) Act, 1989

* capital punishment for the accused of Kopardi rape and murder.

Now look at the ground situation:

* the amendment in the SC ST (Atrocities Prevention) Act, 1989 is not in the hands of the state government

* the issue of reservation is pending in court

* Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has assured that his government would try its best to ensure that the accused in the Kopardi case get maximum punishment.

Despite the stir and the energy the humongous rallies created, the momentum built is all set to fizzle out due to the technical and legal lacunae of the demands and cluelessness of the organisers about future of the agitation.

Rallying forces

Millions of Marathas took to the streets, highly organised, marching through the city in silence. At the end of the day, their delegation met the senior-most bureaucrat of the city and handed over their memorandum of demands.

This has been the usual practice of the organisers of the rallies. But this is just a medium of sending the demands across to the state government. Neither the bureaucrat nor the CM can do anything to fulfil the demands.

At most, the Maharashtra government can write to the Centre to consider the amendment in the Act considering the public sentiment. On these grounds, the silent rallies being taken out all over the state are most likely to be rendered useless.

Neither the Maratha political leaders nor the organisers of these rallies seem to have given a thought to this aspect. If they fail to deliver, the issue could boomerang on them in the future.

How well thought out

"Our objective is to create pressure on the government to take action to fulfil our demands. We have not decided about the future course of action if the rallies do not help in achieving the goal. It could be anything. Similar rallies to the houses of Maratha politicians. The majority of the politicians belong to the Maratha community and they would be forced to act if we take our rallies to their houses. We can force them to resign if they do not get our demands fulfilled," said Mansingh Pawar, a resident of Aurangabad who was part of the core group that organised the first rally at Aurangabad.

Since the BJP is in power at the state and the Centre, the procedure to get the demands fulfilled could be easier and faster, he said.

Veteran journalist and political analyst Ganesh Torsekar feels that the rallies do not have any future.

"Taking out such rallies is different and converting them into concrete results is an all together a different issue. The rallies are being claimed to be spontaneous but they won't achieve the goal. The organisers must think of the future of the agitation."

Torsekar feels that the unrest is the outcome of years of oppression of Maratha sentiments in the name of being secular and progressive.

"The politicians used the term, 'the state of Phule Shahu and Ambedkar' at the drop of a hat. But no one has evoked it since the first rally in Aurangabad. This is the indication that Marathas have successfully sent a message that they give a damn to the so-called secular ideology," Torsekar said.

He said that the Kopardi gang rape and murder is has sparked the unrest among Maratha community.

"This is probably the first incident in Maharashtra that a girl from Maratha community was raped by the youths from Dalit community. And this is the biggest blow to the Maratha pride. This has been the trigger for the Marathas to join the rallies in such huge numbers. However, in my opinion, these rallies do not have future. They will not bring about the desired change," Torsekar said.

Speaking up

Ironically, Maratha leaders who have shown great concern about the ill treatment to SC and the ST have not spoken a word on the sentiments of the Maratha community.

"The biggest Maratha leader of the state Sharad Pawar did not waste a single minute to write a letter to CM reminding him of the Phule Shahu Ambedkar legacy of the state when some people ransacked a programme attended by NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad. But this has not happened ever since the rallies started in Maharashtra. This is because the Maratha community has defied legacy and does not subscribe to the Phule Shahu Ambedkar philosophy," Torsekar says.

Kishor Shitole, one of the core committee members of the first rally at Aurangabad said, "The issue has been wrongly handled by the politicians. The previous government announced 16% reservation to Maratha community which could not stand the legal test. The only solution to this is that Marathas be included in Economically Backward Class (EBC). Once this is done, we will be eligible for reservation."

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

Also read:Maratha Kranti Morcha's silent protests reach Mumbai, state govt rattled

Also read:Maharashtra: Maratha Kranti Morcha demands arrest of rape accused

First published: 26 September 2016, 2:52 IST
Ashwin Aghor @CatchNews

Journalist based in Mumbai.