Several Other Backward Classes (OBC) outfits intensified their protest on Monday demanding assurance from the state government that they will not buckle under the pressure from the politically significant Maratha community who wants reservation at any cost – even if it is from OBC’s 27% quota.
Activists from OBC Janmorcha staged agitations outside the collector’s and tehsil offices at most of the districts in the state. In Mumbai, it was held outside the suburban collectorate at Bandra, and protestors gathered outside the collector’s office in Thane, which is the hometown of chief minister Eknath Shinde.
A morcha was carried out from Samvidhan Chowk in Nagpur by members of the OBC and Kunbi communities in which leaders from all political parties participated. Later, a charter of demands was submitted to the collector.
Baban Taywade, OBC Mahasangh president, clarified that they are not opposed to Maratha reservation, but it should not be from their quota. “I want to tell this openly that we are not against quota to Marathas. They should demand reservation independently and not from the existing quota of 50% divided among different castes and communities.”
He said the OBC community is ready to support the cause of Marathas. “The population of the OBC community is 60% and we are getting 27% reservation. It is a representation and not a charity. We are not getting full representation and if big brother (Maratha community) also wants to share the reservation then we will be left with nothing.”
Activists from both the communities have been carrying out a relay hunger strike at Samvidhan Chowk since September 10. They didn’t budge even after deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule met the protestors on Saturday.
“The state government is firm that no other caste will be incorporated into the OBC quota. The Maratha community is expecting to get back their reservation granted when I was the chief minister (between 2014 and 2019). A curative petition has been filed in this regard in the Supreme Court,” Fadnavis said.
The unrest in the OBC and Kunbi communities started after Manoj Jarange-Patil, an activist from the Maratha community, went on a hunger strike for 14 days in Jalna. He declared to continue the agitation until the state government decided to issue Kunbi certificates to all the Marathas and not to insist on genealogical records for those. Kunbi community is a sub-caste of Marathas that gets the benefit of OBC category.