Veteran NCP minister and Samata Parishad founder Chhagan Bhujbal on Friday led a scathing attack against the Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange Patil for challenging the authority of the state and issuing warnings to press for Maratha reservation. Bhujbal warned that OBCs would not tolerate any attempts to provide reservation to the Maratha community from its quota. He further declared that the violence against OBCs would be retaliated with an identical reaction while questioning his own government whether there was a rule of law in Maharashtra.
Bhujbal targeted Manoj Jarange Patil, who has launched the second phase of statewide tour demanding the state government to provide Maratha reservation by December 24, saying that he does not have the knowledge of law but he just wakes up in the morning and says anything. He asked the youth from the Maratha community not to walk behind Jarange Patil blindly. Without taking Jarange Patil’s name, Bhujbal said that many leaders have made a stellar contribution for the progress of Maharashtra but claimed some people are trying to create communal discord.
Bhujbal, who along with several OBC leaders at a well attended ‘’OBC Elgar Sabha’’ at Ambad in Jalna district claimed that the reservation is not a garibi hatao move saying that OBCs are not opposed to Maratha reservation but they would not tolerate attempt to enter through back door in the OBC quota. ‘’We are not opposed to Maratha reservation. We did not oppose 58 marches in the state for Maratha reservation. We were the first to support Maratha reservation making it amply clear it should be done without touching the OBC quota.But we didn’t burn anyone’s house, today some pro Maratha quota activists burnt the houses of legislators and other leaders even if they did not oppose Maratha quota. I want to reiterate that OBCs are not opposed to Maratha reservation by law,’’he said.
Bhujbal and other leaders at the rally unanimously opposed any move to extend Kunbi certificate to Marathas and warned that similar rallies will be organised across the state in every district and even at the taluka level.
Earlier, he accused Maratha protesters of attacking policemen and women which led to lathicharge at Antarwali-Sarati village in Jalna district in September 2023 which sparked the Maratha reservation agitation across the state and made Jarange-Patil as the face of the protest.
“Around 70 police personnel were admitted to the hospital and women police faced atrocities which should be investigated by the state women’s commission. This man (Manoj Jarange-Patil) was hiding in the night and was brought to the stage again by Rajesh Tope and Rohit Pawar (both MLAs of opposition NCP) and these two leaders called Sharad Pawar to visit him. Had Pawar known the reality (of attack on police force), he would not have come to meet him (Jarange-Patil),” Bhujbal said.
In September, the police had to resort to lathi charge during the first phase of the fast called by Jarange-Patil which led to outrage across the state. The Home department came under criticism leading to transfer of police officials and state’s Home minister Devendra Fadnavis extending an apology. It further escalated the agitation with Jarange-Patil in the second phase calling fast unto death demanding Kunbi certificate to Marathas.
Bhujbal said that it was shameful that neither the government nor the district police administration provided this information. “Action against police forced them to refrain from intervening in violent activities that took place in Maratha reservation agitation,” he said.
Warning that the biased action against OBCs will result in Dalit, Muslims and Tribals uniting behind OBCs against Marathas, Bhujbal said that the OBCs should not be provoked. Demanding caste census in the country, Bhujbal said that leaders of all parties support this demand. “If all agree, then what is the problem? Every party is talking about the welfare of OBCs, but why is no one bothered when OBCs are being threatened? I see BJP leaders attending this rally. It is said that over 60% OBCs vote for the BJP. But if their reservation is being challenged then what will happen to this 60%? Think about it,” Bhujbal warned.
‘’What is going on in the state today? The worship of Vitthal of Pandharpur is stopped. Has Pandurang of Pandharpur also been taken over? Pandurang belongs to the entire community and questioned whether he was also trapped in caste bonds. I am being threatened – threats are being served in my constituency,’’ said Bhujbal. He appealed to the OBC activists that they should not remain silent but fight and work peacefully for their right to justice saying that the atmosphere Phule-Shahu-Ambedkar’s Maharashtra has been polluted by some people since the last few days.
Meanwhile, Sunil Tatkare, who is the Maharashtra unit chief of NCP led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, declined to comment on Bhujbal’s attack on Jarange Patil and his warning of identical reaction saying that he had not heard his speech. However, he clarified that the party is of the firm view that Maratha should get reservation which would stand the legal scrutiny without touching quota of other communities.
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