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OBC activists’ counter-protest against Maratha activist continues in Maharashtra’s Jalna

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BJP leader Pankaja Munde and her cousin Maharashtra Minister Dhananjay Munde meet activists protesting for protection of OBC quota, at Wadigodri in Jalna district on Tuesday.

BJP leader Pankaja Munde and her cousin Maharashtra Minister Dhananjay Munde meet activists protesting for protection of OBC quota, at Wadigodri in Jalna district on Tuesday.
| Photo Credit: PTI

The ongoing protest by Other Backward Class members in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region to safeguard OBC reservation saw activist Laxman Hake remaining firm on his hunger strike even as his health deteriorated on June 17.

Mr. Hake’s sugar levels fell drastically today as he refused to budge from his fast despite government assurances that the OBC quota would not be affected by Maratha reservation demands.

Amid Maratha quota agitation

While Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange-Patil has been hogging the limelight with his hunger strikes (his fourth ended recently) demanding inclusion of the Maratha community under the OBC Kunbi category, the OBC community has decided to aggressively counter it using similar methods with Mr. Hake, along with another OBC activist, sitting on a fast in the State’s Jalna district for the last five days.

In December last year, Mr. Hake, affiliated with the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT), had resigned from the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission after alleging that the panel was reportedly being subjected to a political agenda in order to expedite the Maratha reservation process at any cost.

This was the time when Jarange-Patil’s fasts, and his demands, had brought the Eknath Shinde-led Mahayuti government to its knees. The Maratha quota agitation and the ‘Jarange-Patil’ factor has played a significant role in the defeat of candidates of the ruling coalition (of the BJP, the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and the Ajit Pawar-led NCP) in several seats in the Marathwada region.

Minister meets activist

Even as Mr. Hake remained firm on his agitation in Jalna’s Ambad tehsil, Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Dhananjay Munde (from the Ajit Pawar-led NCP faction) said the Mahayuti government was not against reservation for anyone and that Mr. Hake’s demands for the safeguarding of the OBC quota will be kept before the government.

On June 17, Mr. Munde along with his cousin and BJP leader Pankaja Munde had met with Mr. Hake and Navnath Waghmare, who have been sitting on a fast since June 13 in Jalna — the same district where Manoj Jarange-Patil has been staging his hunger strikes.

The OBC activists have sought a written assurance from the government that their quota will not be affected.

“The State government has clarified several times that we are not opposed to giving a quota for anyone. Yet, misunderstandings continue to be created among communities. These ought to be dispelled as swiftly as possible,” Mr. Munde had said after meeting Mr. Hake.

In February this year, the Maharashtra legislature unanimously passed a bill providing 10% reservation for the Marathas in education and government jobs under a separate category.

Mr. Jarange-Patil has also demanded the implementation of the draft notification that recognises Kunbis as blood relatives of Maratha community members and a law to identify Kunbis as Marathas.

Jarange-Patil’s first two hunger strikes — one lasting 17 days in September last year and the other lasting nine days in October and November — had paralysed the government machinery and compelled the Shinde government to expedite the process of granting a quota for the community.

This had also prompted a backlash from the OBC community, which fears that Mr. Jarange-Patil’s agitation would lead to Marathas feeding off from the OBC reservation pie despite the Marathas being the politically dominant community in the State.


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