cover

The past month saw a major upheaval in caste based politics and really got the wheels turning
for people in the state of Maharashtra. It was the first time in a very long time, when the
people of Mumbai reconsidered their decisions to get out of homes during the course of
'Maratha Kranti Morcha' and the 'Maharashtra Bandh' that was declared.
A lot of people opined upon the need for such frustration and display of agony, by a
community that is by far any means already predominant in the state of Maharashtra, and
also the city of Mumbai. The question that many asked was, 'Why do they need reservation?'
To know the answer behind this, one may have to go back in time, and think of an answer to
the question, from different viewpoints.
Maratha Kranti Morcha
What reached the city of Mumbai for the first time in August 2017, was a silent rally of orange
clad Marathas from across the state in a silent rally. Their demands – swift justice for the rape
and murder of a woman in the Kopardi district of Maharashtra, reimplementation of SC/ST
Act in the Constitution which was scrapped by the honorary Supreme Court of India, and
reservation for the Maratha caste in the OBC category.
The reservation problem has been the highlight of this protest. Many literate minds have
taken active part in the protest. They have stressed on the need for reservation for the
Maratha category, and now seek a confirmation for the same from the Chief Minister of the
State in writing.
Virendra Shashikant Pawar, a representative of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, states how the
problem of reservation has been twisted by various political spokespersons to incite hatred
for the Maratha community. He addresses that, the Maratha community wants to be
recognized as OBCs (Other Backward Classes, Mandal Commission 1990), which will enable
the community to reap educational, and social benefits of the reservation. 'We do not wish
to cut into the open category people,' states Virendra. This brings light onto the fact that the
community has a demand to be included in the OBC category and does not seek any 'special'
reservation status.
During the protests of August '17, the chief minister had then met with representatives of the
protest and assured them completion of their demands by the earliest. However, as time
passed, little was done over his word, and those promises turned out to be an empty flask.
This agitated the community even more, resulting into the suicide of a young man who
claimed to sacrifice his life for the Maratha cause by jumping into the Godavari river, in the
Aurangabad district of Maharashtra in late July 2018. This stirred up the community, the state
and authorities into controversy.
The second time that the protests came to Mumbai, in early August 2018, the results around
the state were violent, unlike the first time. The Maratha Kranti Morcha, however decided to
withdraw their protest in the early afternoon in the city, because of the display of aggression
by certain anti social elements, which they claim were a conspiracy by political leaders to
tarnish the community. 'We have always believed in a non violent form of protest and we will
keep doing it this way,' states Virendra, who was extremely disheartened when the second
edition of protests in the state took a violent turn. This violence, however, was still dominant
in areas of Navi Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Jalna, and several other places across the state.
The third and final edition of the protest that was started on August 9, 2018 came with certain
ideological developments. Firstly, the protestors decided to sit outside government offices,
avoiding any social nuisance such as disrupting offices, schools, hospitals, and so on. They
demanded that, whoever was in the support of their cause, must close down their business
and be a part of their agitation willingly. This comes to view as a mature and more plausible
action to find solution to their problems. Second, they wish that all the assurances that are
given by the chief minster to be in writing. This development has come at a right time and
also ensures that the government authorities do not turn back on their promises. The
Maratha Kranti Morcha has stated that this edition of the protest will go on until the chief
minster gives it to them in writing that their demands will be fulfilled, which he says will be
done by the month of November this year. What happens of this, remains to be seen?
The Reactions
Reactions to this protest have been majorly in support of the agitation in most parts of the
state of Maharashtra. Major criticism has evoked in parts where the agitation took a violent
turn that has lead to loss of public and private property. Areas such as Pune, and Navi Mumbai
have been gravely affected. Fear has engulfed people's minds as to what actions could be
taken by the Maratha community to get their demands fulfilled. The city of Mumbai has been
comparatively less affected due to stringent discipline and control by the city's police
authorities.
The political bodies have been sly in support of the protest. Political parties such as the
Shivsena, and MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) have directly and, in the latter's case,
indirectly supported the protests. The reason for this being, for the growth of the Maratha
community in general, and a golden opportunity to tarnish the ruling NDA camp. Chief
Minister, Devendra Fadanvis has been vigilant and active to hear out the grievances from the
Maratha Kranti Morcha camp. He has assured the representatives of fulfillment of their
demands, and has asked for their patience until he gets procedures in place.
The Solution
Virendra Pawar of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, states that, the need for reservation for the
Maratha community is because the community is denied of certain benefits in the education
system. The community in the rural and deep rural areas is extremely under privileged and
weather conditions are consistently turning unfavourable for the sustenance of agriculture.
In the light of this, the Maratha community became active for the need for reservation for
better facilities for their future. He states how the Maratha community had first asked for a
reservation in the OBC category in late 1992, when the Mandal Commission was formed, but
that demand was never entertained. With worsening social conditions, cut throat
competition for employment, and depleting agrarian conditions, the Maratha community
sees this as the only viable option for their betterment.