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Maratha coordinators to BJP: ‘Don’t give political colour to agitation, help us get reservation’

Even as the BJP has decided to actively take part in the agitation for Maratha reservation, some coordinators of Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) have opposed the move to give "political colour" to the community's demand for quota.

Even as the BJP has decided to actively take part in the agitation for Maratha reservation, some coordinators of Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) have opposed the move to give “political colour” to the community’s demand for quota. The MKM has instead urged the BJP to persuade the central government to fight the case in Supreme Court, where it has filed a review petition.

“BJP leaders and workers are welcome to take part in the agitation. However, they should come as individuals and not as a party. The BJP should not try to give political colour to the community’s agitation for reservation,” said Vinod Patil, one of the key coordinators of MKM. Patil was also the respondent in the case when the apex court struck down the reservation law made by the state government.

Patil’s reaction came after BJP’s Pune chief Jagdish Mulik and Pimpri-Chinchwad chief Mahesh Landge announced the party’s stance on the issue, two days ago. Both said the BJP state chief Chandrakant Patil was in favour of party workers and leaders taking part in the agitation and carrying it to its logical conclusion. They said workers and leaders will take part in the agitation under the party banner’s for the sake of the Maratha community, as the state government had failed to provide justice to the community.

Patil said the central government has filed a review petition in SC challenging the majority view of the Constitution Bench that only the Centre had the power under the 102nd Constitution Amendment to identify and list Socially and Educationally Backward Classes, and not states. “Since now the central government has come into the picture, state BJP leaders should follow up with it. It is not the time for agitation now. Anyway, till the Covid-19 pandemic remains, there will be no agitation. Instead, now is the time to pursue the case by forgetting about political differences. The BJP should take the lead…” he said.

Rajendra Kondhare, coordinator and voice of the Maratha community, said, “Political leaders and workers were very much part of the agitation of Maratha Kranti Morcha. But they were in the seventh row… Instead of agitation, our focus now is to get reservation for the community through concerted and united effort. The BJP should help bring everyone under one umbrella,” he said.

Another Maratha coordinator Maruti Bhapkar said, “Political parties never agree, they are perpetually fighting for credit. The agitation will then lose momentum. We don’t want any political colour to our reservation demand. Everyone, including those from different political parties, are welcome to participate in the agitation, but they should keep their parties outside our agitation’s purview. We will not allow the agitation to be hijacked by any political party.”

Kondhare said after SC stated that the Centre had the power to make the SEBC Act and not states, the state BJP should get the Centre to play a more prominent role in the matter. “Even as otherwise, reservation is a raging issue in several states. The Centre cannot remain a spectator. It will have to play an active and decisive role. State BJP should persuade the Centre to step forward and lend its weight to resolve the reservation tangle,” he said.

Yet another Maratha coordinator, Pravin Gaikwad, however, struck a dissenting note. “I think politicians have already entered the sphere of Maratha agitation. Every time the courts give a ruling, it is politicians who are more vocal and blaming each other. Anyway, be it Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati or Vinayak Mete, who are close to the BJP, politicians have already been part of the Maratha agitation. Let all of them from different parties join. They should come together, sinking their differences and fight for seeking justice for the community,” he said.

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