Ajit Pawar should have questioned Maharashtra government over Maratha quota delay: Manoj Jarange

Manoj Jarange-Patil has been demanding that Kunbi OBC caste certificates be given to the Maratha community. File Photo: PTI
| Photo Credit: PTI

Activist Manoj Jarange on January 22 said Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar should have questioned the State government over the delay in granting quota to Marathas and claimed that Mr. Pawar was rather speaking against the reservation issue.

Mr. Jarange was talking to reporters at a village in Ahmednagar district on the third day of his march to State capital Mumbai.

The activist, accompanied by thousands of supporters, left his village Antarwali Sarti in Jalna district on January 20 to march to Mumbai, where he plans to sit on an indefinite fast till the State government issues an order granting reservation to the Maratha community.

He has been demanding that Marathas in the State be given Kunbi certificates to enable the community to avail reservation in government jobs and education under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category.

“Ajit Pawar should have cornered the State government over the Maratha reservation issue. He should have asked why there was a delay in granting the reservation. But instead, he is speaking against the issue,” Mr. Jarange said.

Ajit Pawar rebelled against his uncle and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) founder Sharad Pawar in July last year and joined the Eknath Shinde-BJP government in the state. Jarange said there will be “serious consequences” if the state government tried to use force against his rallies.

“This agitation cannot be defused any longer. Holding rallies and marching for our demands falls within the framework of democracy. I have even sought permission for a sit-in agitation in Mumbai,” the activist said.

“Jarange also said he is ready to hold talks and discussions with the State government’s representatives. The government should, however, understand the issues of the Maratha community, which has now become more aware,” he added.

The activist is expected to reach Supa town in Pune district on January 22, where he will stay overnight. The distance between Antarwali Sarati village and Mumbai is more than 400 km. Jarange is scheduled to begin his hunger strike over the quota issue on January 26.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Saturday said the State Commission for Backward Classes will conduct a survey from January 23 to asses the social, economic and educational backwardness of the Maratha community.

The Chief Minister has directed the administration to carry out the survey in three different shifts on a war footing. The survey will be conducted from January 23 to January 31.

Mr. Shinde on Sunday appealed to Mr. Jarange not to head to Mumbai, stressing that the State Commission for Backward Classes is on the job. The CM said the State government has also planned to organise a special Assembly session in February to decide on the Maratha reservation.

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