Activist Manoj Jarange on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government to make it clear whether it is ready to provide reservation to the entire Maratha community and why it needs more time to do so.
Mr Jarange, who has been on an indefinite fast at his native Antarwali Sarati village in Jalna district to press for the Maratha quota demand, asked the state government how much time it needs to fulfil the demand. He also asked the government to come to the protest site and hold talks with him.
Mr Jarange made the remarks after the government held an all-party meeting in Mumbai earlier in the day to discuss the Maratha quota issue. After the meeting, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde urged Mr Jarange to withdraw his fast and cooperate with the government. He also said the state needs some time to prepare for the curative petition filed in the Supreme Court.
The government needs time to work out legal modalities to implement the reservation, Mr Shinde said.
Mr Jarange said, “I don’t want to know the details of what had happened during the all-party meeting. The government says they want time. They should tell us how much time they want and also tell us what the problem is in giving reservation to the Maratha community. We will then think about it.”
He added that the government should have realised this earlier and demanded more time, he said.
“But the government starts asking for time 8-10 days into my agitation. They should say what they are going to do in detail. If they are just going to do it for the time being, then we will not spare even five minutes for the government,” he said.
Mr Jarange had earlier sat on an indefinite fast in the last week of August and called it off on September 14 after chief minister Shinde assured him that the government would look into the demand. At that time, Mr Jarange had set a deadline of 40 days for the government to fulfil the Maratha quota demand.
“When the government took 40 days earlier, all parties were there. So Marathas now understand that no political party really belongs to them. The government should not fool us by just writing papers. They should tell us how they are going to give us a reservation,” he said.
“The government should say why it needs time and whether they are ready to give reservation to the entire Maratha community. Then Marathas will think about it. The agitation will not stop and I will stop taking water from this evening. They should come and talk till I can speak,” he warned.
“We will continue our fight for reservation in a peaceful manner and the government will not be able to handle this agitation. If it wishes to give us reservation, it will give. This is the power of the Marathas,” he said.
Mr Jarange continued to target the Shinde-led dispensation and asked, “Can we call it a government that takes care of people? Offences are being registered against children of poor people.”
The activist claimed that he was given a message that he should use proper language while speaking about political leaders.
“When we talk about their leaders, they (people in the government) feel bad and send messages to me. How can they see the Maratha youths die” he asked.
The Maharashtra government on Tuesday published an order asking officials concerned to issue fresh Kunbi caste certificates to eligible Maratha community members, paving the way for them to avail reservation benefits under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.
A government resolution (GR) asked the officials to translate old documents having references to Kunbis and written in Urdu and ‘Modi’ script (which was used to write Marathi language in earlier times). These documents are to be digitised, attested and then put in the public domain.
However, Mr Jarange opposed the move, saying the entire Maratha community should be given reservation.
“It (the government order) is not acceptable and the government should cancel it,” he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)