Maratha Reservation: Government On 2-Day Notice From Jarange Patil

If chief minister Eknath Shinde thought that he has effectively countered Maratha activist Manoj Jarange Patil by passing a bill to reserve ten per cent of seats in government jobs and educational seats for Marathas he is sadly mistaken.

The bill, which was passed unanimously, has not satisfied Jarange Patil who has asked thousands of his followers to start rasta roko” (road blockades) in all districts from February 24 onwards. He said there was no reference to the January 26 notification issued by the Shinde sarkar which clearly stated that kunbi certificates would be issued to Marathas.

The political implications of Jarange Patil’s stand are also serious because it may result in the denial of a substantial number of Maratha votes to the ruling Maha Yuti, which includes the Shiv Sena (Shinde), BJP and the NCP (Ajit Pawar). Marathas constitute 28% of the population of the state and can swing poll outcome in several constituencies.

The Jarange Patil camp is convinced that the new bill would also be declared ultra vires of the Constitution by the courts since it breaches the 50% cap on reservations imposed by the SC in the Indra Sawhney case.

On May 5, 2021 the apex court had rejected a 2018 law which granted reservation to Marathas.

Jarange demands implementation of notification in 2 days

Though some members of Jarange Patil’s inner circle are of the opinion that one should wait for the outcome of any legal challenge to Tuesday’s bill, the activist feels that he has been taken for a ride by the Shinde government. He has demanded the implementation of the January 26 notification within two days, failing which he would call for a statewide indefinite agitation. Jarange Patil is also insisting that “sage soyire” blood relatives of kunbis too shoule be given certificates.

Though he has assured that the agitation would be peaceful, the police are sceptical about the same since thousands of people would be on the streets and it would be difficult to counter them. In the past, the agitation had taken a violent turn with even policemen being targeted by the agitators.

Earlier in the day, the activist, who is on the 12th day of his indefinite fast in his village Antarwali Sarati in Jalna district, told reporters that the bill providing 10% reservation to the Maratha community would not stand legal scrutiny and reiterated his demand that the Maharashtra government’s draft notification on ‘sage soyare’, or blood relatives, of Kunbi Marathas be converted into a law.

Patil wrote letter to the PM

He later appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a serious note of the matter and not hold the (upcoming Lok Sabha) elections until the reservation issue is addressed.

The state unit of the Congress, which has supported the bill at Tuesday’s special session, on Wednesday slammed Shinde for rushing through the bill. State unit president Nana Patole said the bill may be rejected by the courts. He said the Marathas should not be led up the garden path. The Mahayuti is now worried since it is not clear what shape Jarange Patil’s protest would not take. It clearly does not want a grave law and order situation in the state which is readying to go for the polls. Even though cracks have developed in Jarange Patil’s camp indications are that they were not wide enough to break the unity of the protesters.

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