Maharashtra: OBC Groups Warn of Statewide Agitation to Oppose Reservations to Marathas

The groups have planned three huge rallies in the next 20 days in various parts of the state. These meetings are likely to see the participation of OBC leaders from various political parties from across the country.

New Delhi: Leaders of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) have warned the Maharashtra government of statewide protests if it goes ahead with its decision to grant Marathas reservation under the OBC category. They vowed to use all methods to oppose the government’s proposed move to issue Kunbi caste certificates to Marathas, including approaching the courts.

Various OBC groups are coming together to organise three rallies in the next 20 days to exert pressure on the government to roll back its decision. These meetings are likely to see the participation of OBC leaders, like Tejashwi Yadav, from various political parties from across the country. The first meeting is likely to be held on November 17 in Jalna’s Ambad, which is also the place where Maratha quota protestor Manoj Jarange-Patil had earlier sat on fast-unto-death. The second meeting is planned in Hingoli on November 26, and the third one will be organised in Yavatmal.

Several prominent OBC leaders met Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party (Ajit Pawar faction) Chhagan Bhujbal on Tuesday, November 7, in Mumbai to discuss the issue. A day earlier Bhujbal had struck a divergent note to that of his government, by saying that he “will not tolerate injustice to OBCs and will not remain silent”.

The Eknath Shinde government has promised Marathas to complete the process of granting reservations by giving them OBC certificates and including them in the OBC Kunbi category by January 2, 2024. The move has angered OBC groups, which fear that Marathas would eat into their reservation pie of 19%.

“We are not against increasing the EWS [Economically Weaker Sections] quota and giving reservations to Marathas under it. But we are totally opposed to giving Kunbi certificates (under OBC) to all Marathas. We won’t tolerate all this, and will soon hit the streets. And if needed, we will also go to court,” OBC leader Prakash Shendge said, according to the Indian Express.

Shendge is also of the view that the Justice Shinde Commission formed by the Maharashtra government to grant Kunbi caste certificates to Marathas has no constitutional basis. “The committee has no constitutional right to give Kunbi certificates to anyone. It is not a backward class commission to give anyone that status. Marathas have never been backward and it has been proven several times.”

He said they are waiting for Diwali festivities to conclude to launch their statewide agitation. “We are waiting for Diwali festivities to conclude, after which we hold OBC Elgar rallies in the state. They will be followed by statewide agitation against the blanket reservation to Marathas from OBC quota.”