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As 40-day deadline ends, Maratha quota leader restarts hunger strike

Maratha leader Manoj Jarange Patil began his indefinite hunger strike on Wednesday demanding reservations for the Maratha community despite the last-ditch efforts by the state government to dissuade him from doing so. The Maharashtra government had deputed BJP minister Girish Mahajan to negotiate with Patil as he had dealt with the Maratha leader during his previous fast in August-September this year.

Mahajan had tried to urge Patil to call off his fast while seeking more time for the state government to give this quota to the community. The Maratha leader, however, did not budge asking Mahajan why the state has not been able to give reservation to the Maratha community within the deadline of 40 days (October 24) that was set by him.

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During his meeting with the Maharashtra minister, Patil also brought up the issue of trust deficit with the state government by reminding Mahajan that the government has still not withdrawn police cases against the Maratha protestors even after assurances by the state government that it would be done in two days. Police had booked the protestors from this community in September after a clash with police during a protest in Patil’s village Antarwalli Sarati.

The Maharashtra government is desperate for Patil to withdraw his fast as the Maratha leader has mobilized the entire community in the state to seek reservations. The community protestors have begun stopping ministers’ vehicles and Maratha-dominated villages have also announced that they would not allow the entry of any politician in their villages.

Patil today announced that there are 3,400 villages in the state which have barred the entry of politicians.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis have left for Delhi and are likely to meet Home Minister Amit Shah where this issue along with the disqualification of the Shiv Sena MLAs will be discussed.

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