MUMBAI: Fragmentation on the party and ideological lines and failure to unite into a ‘vote bank’ has led to decline on Maratha politics in the state, which worries the community leaders in Maharashtra.
In 15 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the community has witnessed straight contests between Maratha or Kunbi candidates. This will defuse the Maratha factor in this election, community leaders gathered at Solapur for a state-level meeting told the New Indian Express.
The community that had gathered in 58 mammoth rallies across the state two years back, has gone back to its state of utter fragmentation. This reflected in the meeting of Sakal Maratha and Maratha Kranti Morcha leaders and hence the meeting ended on a note of remaining neutral, said Ram Jadhav of Maratha Kranti Morcha in Solapur.
While some of the leaders say that the community is completely opposed to the current dispensation in Maharashtra, others say that the community can’t forget the betrayal it suffered due to the Congress and the NCP.
“Quota, educational schemes, loan waiver, rape of a minor at Kopardi are some of the issues over which the community is agitated. All these issues go against the BJP-Shiv Sena. Though the anger over these issues and hence the ruling dispensation may not directly beneficial to the opposition, the community won’t be easily deceived henceforth is for sure,” said Balasaheb Sarate, an expert on the issue of Maratha quota.
“Politically complete neutral, followers of a particular leader, progressives and those who align with the Hindutva ideology are the four distinct groups in which the Maratha community is currently divided. There are several subsets and cross sections of all these groups within the community. Due to this kind of fragmentation the community fails to pursue one single agenda and on another hand it has lost its position from the agenda of political parties,” said Rajendra Kondhare of Maratha Mahasangh. As far as the current election is concerned, the community is split between the ruling and the opposition parties, he added.
According to Shivanand Bhanuse of Sambhaji Brigade, the biggest failure of the community was to be able to transform itself into a ‘vote bank’.
“Though the community gathered and displayed its united strength during quota agitation two years back, it didn’t transform into a vote bank. This is the reason why the Maratha community is still confused on whom to lend the political backing,” he said.
Bhanuse also pointed out that the quota agitation was deliberately kept faceless by the established leaders thereby avoiding the rise of new leadership within the community. “This factor also failed the community in electoral politics,” he said.
Representatives from 28 districts gathered at Solapur on Tuesday that they will give a window of 60 days for the new government at the centre to fulfil its promises and if the government fails to deliver, the community would take a firm stand against the dispensation during assembly election, which is scheduled in October this year.
The 2014 assembly election in the state was seen as the end of Maratha politics in the state as the Congress and the NCP – the two ace parties that always nurtured the Maratha politics lost the power. However, in the form of mammoth rallies two years back, the community appeared to have revived it. But, now, the community’s decision not to pledging support to any single dispensation or party, is being seen as yet another nail in the coffin of Maratha politics.
In this Lok Sabha election, 42 Maratha and 6 Kunbi (which is considered to be a sub-caste of Maratha community) candidates are in the fray. Congress-NCP has fielded 16 Maratha and 5 Kunbi candidates, while the BJP-Shiv Sena has 23 Maratha nad one Kunbi candidates with them. Apart from the 3 candidates are trying their luck entirely on the community backing. They are Sanjiv Bhor from Ahmednagar, Harshawardhan Jadhav from Aurangabad and Nilesh Rane from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg.
Among all these candidates, in 15 seats Maratha-Maratha or Kunbi-Kunbi contests would be witnessed.
According to political observes Suhas Palshikar, the old rural ecosystem had developed the Maratha politics along with the power network of the Congress and it is withering away as the rural ecosystem is collapsing.