Marathas in Maharashtra are set to intensify their demand for quota with the launch of a ten-day community outreach programme beginning November 16, a Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) leader announced here Wednesday.
The politically influential Marathas, who constitute around 30 per cent of the state's population, have been demanding 16 per cent reservation in government jobs and education under Other Backward Class (OBC) category.
Against the backdrop of the violent protests, the Maharashtra government had in September this year told the Bombay High Court that the State Backward Class Commission is likely to finalise its report on the socio-economic status of the Maratha community by November 15.
The upcoming Sanvaad Yatra, which is aimed at intensifying the demand for quota as well as to spread awareness in the Maratha community about the cause, would be taken out in each revenue division of the state in a "democratic manner".
The MKM's core committee Wednesday accused the government of adopting a "divide and rule" policy to thwart the campaign of the Morcha.
"The Maratha Kranti Morcha's agitation is taking shape in a decisive direction over its demands including that of the quota (in jobs and education) for the community," Sanjiv Bhor-Patil, a member of the core committee, told reporters.
The Yatra is also aimed at communicating with the members of the Maratha community and to dissuade youths from taking extreme steps such as suicide, he said. The community had in July this year launched an agitation that had witnessed violence at several places in the state.
Around eight people had committed suicide in the months of July and August this year, linking their extreme decision to the Maratha quota demand. B
hor-Patil said the yatra with vehicles would culminate at the state legislature building in Mumbai on November 26 when the state assembly and council will be in session. In a departure from convention, the winter session of the state legislature will be held in Mumbai instead of Nagpur, the second capital of Maharashtra, this year. Responding to a query, Bhor-Patil dismissed reports of factionalism in the MKM saying they are "very much united".
Bhor-Patil, who was accompanied by other members of the committee, accused the state government of using "divide and rule policy" to thwart the campaign. He said the Morcha has formed a state-level core committee and the coordination committees to "foil" such division attempts.
When asked about a pro-Maratha group planning to form a political party in the name of the Morcha, Bhor-Patil said, "nobody has the right to float any organisation or a political party named after Morcha".
"We are opposed to anyone who, unilaterally, misuses the Morcha's name to engage in such acts," he added.
(With inputs from agencies.)