Jalna: Spelling a respite for the Maharashtra government, Maratha leader Manoj Jarange-Patil on Tuesday extended his ultimatum to issue a GR on Maratha reservations by four days, while deciding to continue his agitation.
Speaking to media persons, Jarange-Patil made it clear that if the state failed to issue a Government Resolution (GR) in four days, then he would go off water too.
His statements came after a 3-minister delegation called on him this evening to convey the government’s stance on the issue of Maratha quotas in education and jobs, for which the Marathas have been agitating for the past eight days at Antarvali-Sarati village.
Since Sunday, government delegations of ministers, MPs, legislators and others have met Jarange-Patil on at least five occasions and made attempts to convince him to withdraw his hunger strike, but he has not budged.
This evening, a delegation led by Minister Girish Mahajan and two other ministers, called on Jarange-Patil and requested for a month’s time to come out with GR on the Maratha quotas.
After much cajoling, Jarange-Patil agreed to extend his deadline from Tuesday by four more days – till Saturday – for the government to comply, failing which he threatened to intensify the agitation.
“Girish Mahajan has informed that he will revert within four days. I have also made it clear that they have four days’ time only to implement their assurance. Thereafter, I shall be off food, saline, and water. We respect you but you should also understand us,” said Jarange-Patil.
He has proposed that the government should include Marathas in the Kunbi community which figures in the OBC quotas, and this will enable the GR survive any legal challenge, but the response of the government is not clear yet.
Jarange-Patil grimly added that if the government doesn’t issue the GR in four days, “then they need not come to meet me”.
On the government’s plea for 30 days’ time to make it fool-proof, he shot back that “we had already given them three months earlier, so why do they need another month”.
The Maratha leader, who belongs to the Shivba Sanghatana, part of the Maratha Kranti Morcha umbrella group, has been on a hunger strike from August 29 for the quotas demand. The issue suddenly shot into prominence on September 1 evening after a police cane-charge and teargas shelling on a crowd of Marathas in the village in which several protestors were injured, besides over three dozen police personnel.
The police clampdown manifested into massive processions, demonstrations, shutdowns, road-blocks, etc that spread across Maharashtra, rattling the state government.
Since Saturday, top Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders and three former CMs, including Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena-UBT President Uddhav Thackeray and Congress’ Ashok Chavan, Leader of Opposition in Council Ambadas Danve, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi President Prakash Ambedkar, descendents of the Chhatrapati, Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje Bhosale and Chhatrapati Udayanraje Bhosale and others converged there to express solidarity with the Maratha quotas cause.
Pawar on Tuesday urged the Centre to remove the 50 per cent ceiling on quotas and raise it by 15-16 per cent to accommodate more communities.
Meanwhile, Sena-UBT MP Sanjay Raut demanded to know why the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde or Deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar have not yet visited Jalna to meet Jarange-Patil yet.
State Congress President Nana Patole has demanded that the issue of reservations for Marathas and other communities should be discussed and resolved at the upcoming Special Session of Parliament next week.
Leader of Opposition in Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar has called for a Special Session of Maharashtra Legislature to finalise the quotas for Marathas and other state communities.