MUMBAI: Peeved at the lack of implementation of a host of promises made to them, the Maratha community in Maharashtra has threatened a non-cooperation agitation if the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government in the state does not act on its word by February 10.
“Community leaders had a meeting last month in Panvel, where a deadline of February 10, 2018 was given to the government to put its act together. Another meeting is scheduled at Jalgaon on February 11. If there is no change in the government’s attitude, the next phase of the agitation would be announced in Jalgaon,” said Sanjiv Bhor, a prominent Maratha figure from Ahmednagar who is a member of the steering committee of the Maratha agitation since it began in July 2016.
The proposed next phase of the Maratha agitation has been named “19 se 19 tak”. The first 19 refers to February 19, 2018, the birth anniversary of Maratha warrior king Shivaji, while the other 19 denotes the year 2019, when Maharashtra is scheduled to have Assembly elections. The message is loud and clear—if the community’s demands are not met, its wrath would be expressed through the ballot box.
“We plan to boycott everything related to government. No one would pay electricity bills, telecoms bills, water bills, all kinds of taxes. It would be a complete economic blockade if the government doesn’t pay heed to our demands,” said Swati Nakhate, a young face of the agitation from Marathwada.
“The real issue is economic power. The Maratha community enjoyed power based on its landholdings. But after globalization, knowledge resources or education became more important for economic power than land or agriculture. In that sense, the Maratha community is on a par with the Dalit communities 70 years ago, when reservations for them were started,” said Pravin Deshmukh of Yavatmal in Vidarbha.
“If the government doesn’t help us overcome the current state of economic blockade of the community, the same shall be done unto the government,” he warned.
Speedy prosecution of culprits in the Kopardi rape and murder case.
Reservation in education and government jobs.
Implementation of recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers chaired by Prof. M. S. Swaminathan.
Amendment in The Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to stop its misuse.