Maratha Kranti Morcha: Sambhaji Raje, Nitesh Rane hijack rally; BJP sends protesters home with rehashed promises

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is on the top of the world right now. Not only did he manage to save his government from any unnecessary criticism, he also sent the protesters home without making a noise. The fact that the chief minister handles both the home and urban development ministry in the government, Fadnavis has also found personal satisfaction in the way the city municipal corporation, police and other government agencies worked together in handling the over 3 lakh citizens who marched from Veer Jijamata Udyan in Byculla to Azad Maidan.

But these are not the sole reasons for Fadnavis' happiness. Fadnavis is happy because his strategy to control the Maratha Kranti Morcha has worked. He not only managed to earn the confidence of the Maratha community and portray to them that the BJP government is with the 34 percent population in Maharashtra, he also assured them that he will solve their problems in future.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Fadnavis handled the Maratha Kranti Morcha very tactfully. He spent the first nine months convincing the organisers not to hold the rally in Mumbai. He is believed to have even assured the them that the government will solve their problems and offer facilities given to other castes who fall under Other Backward Classes.

But when the Maratha Kranti Morcha core committee announced their decision to hold the rally on 9 August in spite of the chief minister's assurances, Fadnavis and his close aide worked on a strategy to make a mega announcement for the Maratha community. At the same time, Fadnavis remained constantly in touch with Maratha Congress leader Narayan Rane and BJP-affiliated MP Sambhaji Raje from Kolhapur.

His strategy worked. For, the Maratha Kranti Morcha, which was known as a faceless movement — despite being held in 57 places across the Maharastra before the Mumbai edition — for the first time saw three political faces onto the dais — Raje, Nitesh Rane, and NCP MLC Narendra Patil.

However, not all were influenced by Fadnavis' scheme of things. Several of the participants who were present in Mumbai saw through it.

"It's managed by the chief minister and following a ready made script," alleged Santosh Kale, a participant in the Mumbai rally from Nanded. Speaking with Firstpost, he said, "In the last Winter Session of the Assembly also, the chief minister announced many of the things that he announced on Wednesday."

"We return empty handed with no big relief for the community. The reservation issue is in court, the Kopardi rape accused has not been hung for over a year. It's all because of the selfish the government and our so-called leaders walking with the government for their personal benefit," he alleged.

Rajendra Kondhre, who is a senior leader of the Maratha community and have been actively participating in agitations for the last two decades, said, "We are not fully satisfied with Fadnavis's Wednesday announcement. In December 2016, he announced that Rajashri Shahu Maharaj Education Training Institute called SARATHI, but till last week they have not even allocated an office for it. Why is the government sitting on this file for the last seven months?"

Kondhre also questioned the government's real intentions behind announcements like skill-development-based employment and setting up of district-wide student hostels and a state backward commission.

"All these are time-consuming schemes. The reservation issue has been referred to the state backward commission, which will study the feasibility of reservations for Marathas. The commission will not only study Maratha reservation but also reservation for OBCs, STs and SCs. So, it's a long process, which will take minimum 3 to four years to complete," says Kondhre, adding, "the State Backward Commission hasn't gotten an office for the last six months."

Kondhre informs that though Wednesday's march from Veer Jijamata Udyan to Azad Maidan in Mumbai was the last Maratha Kranti Morcha, the movement is not over. "In the coming weeks we are meeting once again, and will plan our new strategy with a new dimension for part two of Maratha Morcha," claimed Kondhre.

Kondhre is not the only person unhappy with the announcements Fadnavis made on Wednesday. NCP strongman and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said that the government is making fool of the people.

"Now they have announced a cabinet sub committee for reservation. Fadnavis is only announcing big education schemes but at the end of the day, they are only lollipops for the Community. It's a complete eyewash," alleged Pawar.

Santosh Kale Patil, one of the firebrand leaders of the Maratha Morcha said, "I am not hesitant to say that the Morcha was hijacked by non-BJP leaders in consultations with Fadnavis. The chief minister smartly handled all the three big names from the Maratha community and used them to coordinate with the Maratha Community. Why did Raje, Nitesh and Patil come to the dais and announce what the state government had done for the Maratha? It was well-planted and scripted."

Swati Nakhate, a young girl from the Beed districts of Marathwada region who participated in the silent march told Firstpost that the Maratha community is not satisfied fully. "There are good announcements, but nothing has been delivered in the last eight months. So, we are going to hold a meeting in the coming week and then draw a new force for the movement," she added.

Many youngsters are also unhappy because the government has not given any written assurance on the topic, she said.

Fadnavis made several announcements on Wednesday including setting up of a committee to discuss and the demands of the Marathas as well as a grant of Rs 5 crore to build hostels for students in every district. Fadnavis has also instructed the Backward Commission to submit a report on the feasibility of reservations for Marathas.

Updated Date: Aug 10, 2017 17:41 PM

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