Mumbai: With folded hands, Jalna-based activist Manoj Jarange-Patil on Sunday asked the Centre and the Maharashtra government to ensure reservation is granted to the Maratha community in the next couple of days else he would start fast-unto-death yet again to press for the long-pending demand.
Jarange-Patil, who is in his forties, asked people not to take any extreme steps like dying by suicide and instead strengthen the movement.
Jarange-Patil, who would station himself at the Antarwali Sarathi village in Ambad tehsil of Jalna located on the Dhule-Solapur Road, said that the protesters would not allow politicians and people in posts of power to enter the village.
Jarange-Patil, who has become the face of the campaign, demanded that the Marathas be treated as Kunbis and the reservation be extended to them under OBCs.
The development comes as a major challenge to the Eknath Shinde-led Maha Yuti government comprising BJP-Shiv Sena-NCP and allies as well as the opposition parties including the Congress-led Maha Vikas Aghadi in view of the fact that the 2024 Lok Sabha polls are just months away.
“The government has asked time for 30 days…the large-hearted Marathas gave time for 40 days. The 40 days’ deadline ends on 24 October…there are two more days…prepare the report tomorrow, announce the decision the day after,” Jarange-Patil told his supporters after a meeting.
“The Justice Sandeep Shinde (Retd) which was formed (to decide the methodology to issue Kunbi certificates to the community members) should not ask for more time…the government should not give any more time to them…what we want is reservation,” he said.
Later speaking to reporters, Jarange-Patil said that from 25 October, he would start fast-unto-death. “I will not even drink water. I would refuse medical examination,” he said.
It may be mentioned, Jarange-Patil undertook a hunger strike from 29 August, which he ended on 14 September after assurances from Shinde that the government is committed to provide reservation to the Marathas and that all the political parties have unanimously requested him to withdraw the fast.
Of the total 52 per cent reservation in the state, SCs and STs account for 13 and 7 per cent, respectively, OBCs get 19 per cent, Vimukta Jati & Nomadic Tribes (VJNT), Special Backward Class and Nomadic Tribes account for 13 per cent.
In May 2021, the Supreme Court had struck down the Maharashtra legislation providing reservation for Maratha community in the Socially and Economically Backward Class (SEBC).
(Published 22 October 2023, 10:11 IST)