The Maratha community expressed its displeasure over the Public Works Department Minister Chandrakant Patil’s statements that some paid protestors had carried out these protests and attempts were being made by them to create instability in the state. Patil stated that the state government cannot take any decision about the reservation issue as the Bombay High Court is yet to deliver its verdict in this case. Patil asked whether the community will get the reservation by vandalising vehicles! Is Patil trying to create a rift within protestors by issuing controversial statements?
NCP MLC Vidya Chavan said, “What steps has the government taken for the welfare of the Maratha community since last four years? Why did the government maintain silence when the Maratha community was protesting? BJP is blaming the NCP for the agitation which is unjustified. The erstwhile Democratic Front government had announced reservation for the Marathas and the Muslim community after a report submitted by a committee headed by Narayan Rane. BJP did instigate Dalits to counter Maratha agitation thereby paving way for politics of polarisation.”
Congress blamed Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for the agitation taking a violent turn and demanded his resignation. The party stated that BJP was deliberately inciting the Maratha community to create a rift between them and Other Backward Classes to create polarisation for deriving electoral benefits. Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant stated that protests had turned violent due to the false allegation made by the CM against protestors. He alleged that BJP is involved in caste polarisation.
He said, “It’s the conspiracy of the government to create violence in the name of agitation. They want to create a rift between the Maratha and other castes. The first instance was witnessed during the Bhima-Koregaon violence followed by the recent Maratha protest. The Chief Minister had deliberately issued controversial statements pertaining to his cancellation of Pandharpur temple visit to provoke the Maratha community. BJP wants to destroy social integration of Maharashtra for political gains.”
The Fadnavis government claimed that it had fulfilled various demands made by the community like granting freeship to students for pursuing higher education, loan for entrepreneurs and only reservation issue needs to be sorted out. However, protestors mentioned that most of the demands are yet to be implemented on the ground.
BJP spokesperson Shirish Boralkar said, “Chandrakant Patil has rightly stated that the government has taken a positive stand in favour of the Maratha reservation. The government had announced many schemes for the welfare of the Maratha Community but the court will deliver the final verdict in this issue. Even if the Maratha community is trying to impose pressure on the government, it can’t take a decision pertaining to the granting reservation. The community had already held 58 peaceful morchas. Those people resorting to violence are anti-social elements.”
The government is already being criticised by the opposition for its inept handling of the Maratha reservation issue. The government had announced that 72,000 candidates will be hired for government jobs. However, the community has asked the state government to refrain from hiring people for government jobs until it amicably resolves their demand for reservation in jobs. The Maratha Kranti Morcha sought an apology from Fadnavis for stating that some members of the community were planning to instigate violence in Pandharpur.
A Shiv Sena leader spoke to AV on the condition of anonymity and said, “The agitation had turned violent. The earlier agitation called by the Maratha community had concluded peacefully. However, this time the situation is not the same. Marathas hailing from the poor financial background is being denied reservation and hence, they have turned violent. There are some people who are keen to take advantage of such a situation.”
The Bombay High Court has already asked the government to clarify its stand over the Maratha reservation. The court had also asked the government to mention the status of the judicial commission formed to study the socio-economic backwardness of the Maratha community. It had asked the government to submit a report in this regard.
The Maratha agitation which was initially held peacefully across the state had taken a violent turn as bandh was announced in Mumbai and Maharashtra. Protestors vandalised vehicles in several districts of the state. A constable died and nine other policemen sustained injuries during stone-pelting incidents. One of the agitators Kakasaheb Dattatreya Shinde had committed suicide on Monday by jumping in the Godavari River demanding reservation. Protests also turned violent in Mumbai as protestors damaged public buses in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, and Thane. On Wednesday afternoon, the Maratha Kranti Morcha called off the Mumbai bandh.