Maratha quota: Jarange-Patil begins yet another hunger strike in Jalna

Pro-quota activist accuses the Shinde government of procrastinating the implementation of Maratha quota demands

February 10, 2024 10:00 pm | Updated 10:31 pm IST - Pune

Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange is going on another fast, but there was not much response from the top leadership of the ruling parties this time. File

Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange is going on another fast, but there was not much response from the top leadership of the ruling parties this time. File | Photo Credit: ANI

Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange-Patil on Saturday launched yet another indefinite hunger strike at his village of Antarwali-Sarathi in Jalna district, accusing the ruling Eknath Shinde-led Mahayuti government of not fulfilling promises pertaining to reservation for the Maratha community.

The latest hunger strike — Mr. Jarange-Patil’s third — pertains specifically to the activist’s demand that the State government make good its promise of granting other backward class (OBC) certificates to blood relatives of Marathas whose records proved them to be Kunbis. Last month, Mr. Shinde, after meeting with the activist in Navi Mumbai, issued an ordinance on granting blood relatives (of those Marathas proven as Kunbis) Kunbi OBC certificates.

Unlike previous efforts to pacify Mr. Jarange-Patil, there was not much response from the top leadership of the ruling parties this time, given that Mr. Shinde is anyway planning to call a special session of the State Legislature on February 15 to discuss the Maratha quota issue.

Speaking at Antarwali-Sarathi, Mr. Jarange-Patil questioned the delay in converting last month’s ordinance into law. “What is the government waiting for? I have been saying that the government should not drag its feet in converting the ordinance into law despite us demanding since the last three months that blood relatives of those Marathas for whom Kunbi records had been found, be included in the Kunbi OBC category as well,” he said.

He reiterated that the government was not taking his demands seriously, particularly the one which called for immediate withdrawal of cases against Maratha quota agitators.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jarange-Patil’s bete-noire — OBC leader and Maharashtra Minister Chhagan Bhujbal — took a jibe at the activist, questioning the need to sit on yet another hunger strike despite being feted by the Maratha community last month for his ‘victory’ in getting the State government to issue an ordinance.

The septuagenarian leader further said he had received a death threat letter, which allegedly detailed how a ₹50 lakh contract had been given out in his name.

“I did receive a threat letter which came to my office. It said that a contract of ₹50 lakh has been given to kill me. It has the number plates of some cars, some phone numbers, details of where the meetings were held and a few other things,” he said, adding that he had received several such threats and calls in the past few months.

Responding to Mr. Bhujbal’s disclosure, Mr. Jarange-Patil laughed off the Minister’s claims, remarking, “He [Mr. Bhujbal] is an old man. Who would want to kill him?”

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