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Maratha Reservation Activist Ends Hunger Strike, Sets January 2 Deadline for Quota

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Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, on November 1, disclosed that during an all-party meeting held earlier in the day, a unanimous decision was reached to grant reservations to the Maratha community without affecting the existing quotas reserved for other communities in the state. Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, Mr. Shinde also extended an appeal to activist Manoj Jarange, who had been on a hunger strike advocating for Maratha reservations since October 25, urging him to cease his fast and give the government some time.

He stated, “It was decided unanimously at the all-party meeting that the state should make efforts to secure Maratha reservation without interfering with the existing quotas of other communities. I appeal and request Manoj Jarange to withdraw his fast and cooperate with the government. The state needs some time to prepare for the curative petition filed in the Supreme Court,” Mr. Shinde emphasized.

On 2nd Nov, Maratha reservation activist Manoj Jarange Patil concluded his hunger strike, establishing a fresh deadline of January 2, 2024, for the quota. This development has come as a significant relief for the NDA government in Maharashtra, as the quota reservation movement has escalated to violence in various parts of the state.

Jarange, following the termination of his hunger strike, revealed that he had engaged in discussions with the government, which had committed to providing reservations to all Marathas. He articulated, “The committee formed by the government should take some more time but work on ensuring that all Marathas get a reservation. The government has admitted that their committee will work across the state and submit a report. The government is ready to give certificates to the Kunbi Marathas of Marathwada, but we want that the Marathas of the entire state should get reservations. That’s why I have decided that the government should give some more time.”

This announcement was made at the hunger strike site in his village in Jalna district after four state ministers met with him and implored him to discontinue his indefinite hunger strike. Additionally, a delegation comprising retired high court judges Sandeep Shinde, M G Gaikwad, and certain officials met with Jarange. During the discussions, he reiterated his demand for reservations for Marathas throughout Maharashtra, emphasizing the need for “foolproof reservation.”

Jarange, during the talks with the government delegation, emphasized that the government should allocate sufficient funds and deploy multiple teams to conduct surveys related to the economic and social backwardness of the Maratha community. He also called for a government order that grants Kunbi caste certificates to Marathas and stressed that the term “throughout” (Maharashtra) should be included.

The government has already initiated the process of providing Kunbi certificates to Marathas from the Marathwada region who can produce historical records referencing themselves or their ancestors as Kunbi. The Kunbi community, an agrarian group, is eligible for reservations in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.

The resolution passed during the all-party meeting indicates a significant step towards addressing the long-standing demand for Maratha reservations while respecting the existing reservations for other communities in Maharashtra. Manoj Jarange’s decision to end his hunger strike and the government’s commitment to granting Maratha reservations offer a glimpse of potential progress on this contentious issue.

With the new deadline set for January 2, 2024, all parties will have an opportunity to work towards securing these reservations in a way that ensures equitable representation for the Maratha community throughout the state of Maharashtra. This development brings hope for a resolution that balances the demands of various communities and strives for social justice.

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