The Maratha demand for reservations in jobs and education returns to roil the state’s politics
BURNING FURY: Maratha Kranti Morcha members block the Pune-Solapur Highway to protest the lathi-charge on their cohort in Jalna district, Sept. 6 (Photo: PTI)
Seven years after the dominant Maratha community first launched a series of silent morchas (protest marches) for their demands like reservations in jobs and education, the issue has returned to haunt politics in Maharashtra. Since 2016, around 58 ‘Maratha Kranti Morchas’—some of them having hundreds of thousands of people joining them—were organised in Maharashtra and neighbouring states. The agitation turned violent in 2018, further beleaguering the then Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena coalition. There was speculation that the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which has a strong base among the Marathas and was then in the Opposition, had fuelled these protests to corner Fadnavis, a Brahmin. However, the Maratha protests saw counter-mobilisation by the non-Marathas, especially by the upwardly mobile other backward classes (OBCs), who felt that the Marathas would eventually eat into their 27 per cent share of reservations. These groups organised ‘Bahujan Kranti Morchas’ across the state on similar lines.