Maratha quota: anguished by youth’s suicide, Parth Pawar to approach SC

Parth Pawar  

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Parth Pawar raised political eyebrows yet again with tweets expressing anguish over the alleged suicide of a Maratha youth while apparently rebuking his own Maha Vikas Aghadi government for not striving harder to ensure justice for the Maratha community.

Mr. Pawar, the son of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and grand-nephew of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, also said that he would file an intervention application before the Supreme Court over the Maratha reservation.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government on September 21 had already filed an application before the SC seeking to vacate the stay on the implementation of the Maratha quota law in the State.

“Devastated to hear of the tragic death of [the youth from Beed] who committed suicide for the cause of Maratha reservations. Before a chain reaction of such unfortunate incident starts, Maratha leaders have to wake up and fight for this cause. Requesting Maharashtra government to step in to solve the crisis,” Mr. Pawar said in a series of tweets late on Wednesday.

The deceased youth had allegedly written in his suicide note that as the son of a poor farmer, he had been unable to secure a seat after appearing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test — an exam for medical college aspirants — because the implementation of the Maratha quota law in Maharashtra had been stayed by the apex court.

While senior NCP leader and State Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil said there was no cause to read any ‘anti-government’ sentiment into Mr. Pawar’s tweets, the Pune-based Sambhaji Brigade has lashed out at Mr. Pawar’s sudden solicitousness for the rights of the Maratha community, accusing him of being “politically self-serving.”

Santosh Shinde of the Sambhaji Brigade said, “This is not the first time that a Maratha youth has given his life after reservation was denied. Nearly 50 youths have committed suicide since 2018 in the struggle to secure a quota. Mr. Pawar had never tweeted then. Furthermore, he has never participated even once in the hundreds of Maratha quota agitations.”

Stating that Mr. Pawar’s contribution to the Maratha quota agitation was “literally zero”, Mr. Shinde said that such opportunistic tweets were solely meant to burnish his image and stay relevant in politics.

“Has Mr. Pawar taken part in any street agitation till date? Has he fought side by side with any of the veteran Maratha community leaders? So, I think there is no need for him to give us advice to wake up and fight. Instead, as a young political leader, he ought to have focussed on pressing issues like education and employment that are more germane to Maharashtra’s youth today,” Mr. Shinde said.

He further said that Mr. Pawar’s remarks only prove that all political leaders in the State were using the Maratha quota law for their selfish political ends, as had been their wont throughout the agitation since 2016.

Mr. Pawar, who was the NCP’s candidate for the Maval Lok Sabha constituency in Pune at the time of the 2019 general elections, had suffered a defeat at the hands of the Shiv Sena’s Shrirang Barne in spite of the lobbying and campaigning by his father Mr. Ajit Pawar.

He became the first member of the powerful Pawar clan to lose an election — a defeat made all the more bitter with the resounding victory of his cousin brother Rohit Pawar from Ahmednagar’s Karjat-Jamkhed seat in the Assembly polls in October last year.

Since then, Mr. Pawar has avidly courted political controversy, often taking a line running contrary to the stance of the NCP and the MVA government, be it the Ram Temple construction in Ayodhya or the Sushant Singh Rajput case.

In August, a vexed Mr. Sharad Pawar, in an uncharacteristic admonishment of a member of his family, had publicly slammed his grand-nephew’s actions in the Sushant case while dismissing Mr. Pawar as “immature”.

Commenting on Mr. Pawar’s resolve to file a petition in the Maratha quota issue even after the MVA government had already filed a review petition, Mr. Patil said, “His [Mr. Pawar’s] stance is not anti-government. Instead, he thought he wished file an additional petition in the matter... This does not imply he is against the government’s line in the matter.”

Urging Maratha youth to desist from taking extreme steps and not get disheartened by the SC’s stay, Mr. Patil said that the State government would be strongly presenting its case before the apex court with the best lawyers to serve the Maratha community’s interests.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made capital of the younger Pawar’s statements, saying that it only served to illustrate the inefficiency of Mr. Thackeray’s tripartite government.

“More than embarrassing the ruling government, Mr. Pawar’s tweets illuminate the failure of the MVA in striving seriously for justice for the Maratha community. His tweets were a spontaneous reaction and should not be viewed from a political perspective. He is an upcoming young leader in the State and the government must take cognisance of the suicide by immediately thinking of accommodating students until the apex court vacates the stay,” said Pravin Darekar, the BJP’s Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 8:48:43 AM |

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