Maharashtra

Unresolved Maratha Reservation Challenge: A Complex Battle for Equal Representation

The Ongoing Struggle, Political Dilemmas, and Evolving Protests in Maharashtra

The government of India needs to either amend the Constitution or conduct a caste census to calm the angry Marathas, but it is reluctant to do either.

The Maratha reservation issue is a tough challenge for any government in Maharashtra. The only way to solve this problem, which has been haunting every ruling party in the state, is to get the Centre to amend the Constitution and increase the limit on reservations. Another possible way is to do a caste census and find out how many people belong to each community and then give reservations accordingly.

However, the current central government does not want to do either. If they do, they will have to face the fact that the others outnumber the upper castes and that the central government might have more than just three officers from the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) who might have more control over the country’s resources.

This puts the Eknath Shinde government in Maharashtra in a problematic situation. The Marathas, who do not like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Brahmins, are suspicious of the government because it is allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). They also do not trust the BJP after what Devendra Fadnavis did when he was the chief minister. He gave them some promises later rejected by the courts as unconstitutional.

The Maratha agitation has also changed a lot since 2016. Back then, they held peaceful rallies in different parts of the state, spoke calmly and left without making a mess. They showed how to protest in a civilised way. But now, they are not following their example. That is because they need a clear leader. In 2016-17, they had the Maratha Kranti Morcha that guided them. But now, they only have Mahesh Jarange Patil, who suddenly started a hunger strike in Jalna in June this year. And not everyone accepts him as their leader.

The government made a big mistake when they used force against him and his supporters. That angered thousands of Marathas from all districts who came out on the streets. The government tried to use Sambhaji Bhide, a former RSS worker, to calm them down. But that backfired as the Marathas saw through his plan and protested even more.

Now, different leaders are in other districts, and the agitation has become violent and destructive. They have attacked government property and buses. They even burned down the house of NCP MLA Prakash Sonawne and an NCP office in Beed.

Someone is close to Ajit Pawar in the NCP, and he was caught on video saying that these protests and assurances by the government were “like a child’s game”.

The agitators realised that the government needed to be more serious about solving their issue. So they resorted to arson and forced the government to impose a curfew in several districts in Marathwada, now the Centre of the agitation. Shinde, who was criticised for ignoring the turmoil, called up Jarange Patil and told him that the government would deal with the issue in two steps – by filing a petition in the Supreme Court and by giving caste certificates to Kunbis, a subgroup of Marathas who are primarily farmers, to separate them from the rest of the community.

But Jarange Patil was not satisfied – he wanted a complete solution and told Shinde that he would not end his hunger strike until death.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma is a seasoned Political Journalist with a deep passion for Indian Politics. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted… More »

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