Tightening the screws, Maratha leader Manoj Jarange-Patil has accused the government of not being serious on the issue of reservations for his community and launched a “tough” hunger strike on Wednesday.
Jarange-Patil, flanked by scores of his supporters in his native Antaravali-Sarati village, has decided to abstain from all food, water, and medication till the government concedes the demand for Maratha quotas.
“The state government wanted 30 days; we gave them 40 days… Today’s the 41st day since the ultimatum, but nothing has been done. The government is not serious about our plea for quotas,” declared Jarange-Patil.
He told mediapersons that the Marathas are coming within the ambit of quotas, yet they are denied reservations despite a series of agitations, processions, and promises.
Jarange-Patil expressed hope that the government will announce the quotas in a day or so, particularly after Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday night bowed and vowed before a portrait of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in Mumbai to give Maratha reservations and fight till the last drop of blood in his body for justice to the community.
The Marathas have been on a warpath since August 29, when Jarange-Patil launched his first indefinite hunger strike, which he called off after 17 days, then went on a tour of several key districts and addressed a series of mammoth rallies in the community.
Earlier, he had warned that by October 24, “either my funeral procession will be taken out or the Marathas’ victory march”, and reiterated that the community, which is now fully united, will not back off even an inch on the issue.
The state has witnessed several suicides by pro-reservation activists and around five dozen villages in some districts have banned the entry of politicians from all parties as a protest.
Jarange-Patil’s agitation has secured the response of almost the entire political spectrum in the state including the ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party-Nationalist Congress Party (AP), the Opposition Congress-Shiv Sena (UBT)-NCP (SP) and other Maratha groups.