In a significant development, Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange Patil has issued an ultimatum to the Maharashtra state government led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. Patil, 40, has set a deadline of Saturday, January 27, until 11 AM, for the government to accept their demands and issue an ordinance.
Patil, who has refrained from consuming food since Friday and is only taking water, has declared that if the government fails to promulgate an ordinance addressing their various demands by tonight, he will proceed to Mumbai on Saturday.
Among his fresh demands is the amendment of the Maharashtra government’s free education policy to include all Marathas until the benefit of reservation becomes available for the entire community. He insists that both boys and girls should receive free education “from KG to PG” until the comprehensive community-wide reservation is implemented.
Another demand put forth by Patil is seeking data on the 37 lakh Kunbi certificates issued by the state government. Kunbi, an agrarian community falling under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category, has been a key point of contention, with Patil advocating for Kunbi certificates for all Marathas.
Patil argues that the issuance of Kunbi certificates will lead to more than two crore Marathas obtaining OBC certificates, making them eligible for reservation. He further demands reserved seats for Marathas in ongoing government job recruitments and the withdrawal of cases registered against Maratha activists during previous quota protests.
Despite state education minister Deepak Kesarkar stating that Patil’s demands have been accepted and will be fulfilled as per government procedure, Patil and his supporters are prepared to enter Mumbai on Saturday for their planned protest at Azad Maidan if the assurances are not met by tonight.
The Maharashtra government has been engaging in talks with Patil to dissuade him from proceeding to Mumbai. Nevertheless, Patil remains resolute in his stance, emphasizing that once he sets out, there will be no turning back.
This development comes amid a complex and ongoing debate over reservations for the Maratha community, with Patil emerging as a prominent figure in the movement.