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Granting Maratha Reservations Would Not End The Scuffle In Maharashtra

The Maratha caste’s demand for reservations, although granted by the Maharashtra government, will continue to dominate the state political scene for more time as two major issues are still unresolved. Firstly, there is a Supreme Court petition concerning the demand. The last hearing took place on 24 January but the outcome is yet not known. Perhaps more hearings could be needed. The fate of the reservations would be clear only after the Apex Court declares its verdict. Secondly, agitation leader Manoj Jarange Patil has been firm on his demand that all cases filed by the police in connection with the protest actions must be withdrawn forthwith. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadanvis has made it clear that it will not be possible due to legalities involved. Offences like setting houses afire with family members inside, mounting attacks against the police or torching public property can’t be withdrawn unless permitted by court. But Fadnavis clarified that all other cases will be dropped, as promised by chief minister Eknath Shinde to Jarange. Meanwhile, certain experts have started criticising the CM, suggesting that he has taken the agitators for a ride as the state government is not empowered to give such a reservation at all. To complicate the matter, Jarange has threatened to start another fast unto death if the reservations do not materialise. The ruling side’s insistence that the OBC reservations would not be touched to accommodate the Maratha caste will pose new problems for the government, it is felt.