Navi Mumbai, January 27: Marathas constitute 33% of Maharashtra’s population. In a significant turn of events, Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange-Patil has concluded his indefinite hunger strike after a crucial meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Saturday. The activist had previously threatened to march towards Mumbai if his demands were not met, adding to the historical backdrop of the ongoing Maratha reservation protests.
The decision came after Chief Minister Eknath Shinde held a crucial meeting with officials at Varsha, his official residence. A draft ordinance addressing Jarange-Patil’s demands was then sent to Vashi, where the activist and thousands of supporters were camped. Sources confirmed that Mr. Jarange-Patil would receive the first copy before public access.
The activist’s key demands include expanding free education in Maharashtra government’s free education policy for all Marathas until community-wide reservation in jobs and education is implemented. This includes both boys and girls from kindergarten to postgraduate levels and granting OBC category Kunbi certificates to all Marathas, considering the Kunbi community falls within the OBC classification. Jarange-Patil sought data transparency on the 37 lakh Kunbi certificates already issued and the 54 lakh records identified by the government, including reserved seats for Marathas in ongoing government job recruitments.
The activist had earlier addressed a rally, warning of a protest at Azad Maidan ground in Mumbai if his demands weren’t met. He began his march towards Mumbai from Jalna district on January 20, demanding Maratha reservation under the OBC category and stopping solid food intake, surviving only on water.
Despite Mumbai Police denying permission for a hunger strike in the city, Jarange-Patil remained resolute. The police offered an alternative venue in Navi Mumbai, but the activist insisted on Azad Maidan. However, with the government’s acceptance of his demands, a decision on the Mumbai protest will be taken on Saturday noon.
Jarange-Patil’s success has received mixed reactions. While Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis emphasized the right to peaceful protest, Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole criticized the government for misleading the Marathas and demanded a constitutional solution to the reservation issue.
With the draft ordinance in hand, Maratha community members await its details and the government’s next move. This development marks a significant turn in the Maratha quota campaign, but its lasting impact and the government’s ability to fulfill its promises remain to be seen.
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