Manoj Jarange-Patil calls off latest hunger strike after government assurances | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Manoj Jarange-Patil calls off latest hunger strike after government assurances

Jun 14, 2024 08:50 AM IST

The activist had been on a hunger strike in Antarvali Sarati, Jalna district, demanding blanket reservation for Marathas in the OBC category

Manoj Jarange-Patil, the activist who has launched a series of agitations in the past to obtain rights for Marathas, has ended his indefinite hunger strike that began on June 8, following assurances from a state government delegation to fulfil his demands within one month. Jarange-Patil warned that if the government fails to meet the deadline, he will field candidates in all 288 Assembly constituencies in the upcoming polls.

Maratha reservation activist Manoj Jarange-Patil during his hunger strike demanding the implementation of the 'Sage Soyare' ordinance. (ANI)
Maratha reservation activist Manoj Jarange-Patil during his hunger strike demanding the implementation of the 'Sage Soyare' ordinance. (ANI)

The activist had been on a hunger strike in Antarvali Sarati, Jalna district, demanding blanket reservation for Marathas in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. He sought a law to issue OBC certificates to blood relatives of Marathas who have produced Kunbi-related documents for certification. The inclusion of Maratha sub-castes in the OBC quota could be facilitated by these certificates.

On January 27, the state government issued a notification to this effect, but the process remained incomplete due to the scrutiny of suggestions and objections. Over 800,000 such submissions were received in February and are currently under review. The government is expected to issue a final notification once the process is complete, allowing the issuance of Kunbi certificates to blood relatives as well.

Jarange-Patil's protest posed a serious threat to the ruling parties ahead of the October Assembly polls. The ruling Mahayuti alliance lost seven out of eight seats in Marathwada, believed to be due to the consolidation of Maratha votes against them.

In response, a delegation of two ministers, Shambhuraj Desai and Sandipan Bhumare, met with Jarange-Patil on Thursday afternoon, requesting a two-month extension to issue the final notification. Jarange-Patil pointed out that the government had already been given five months since the draft notification on January 27 but had taken no action. He demanded the final notification be issued by June 30, but the government delegation cited election-related duties and requested at least one month's time.

"Respecting the state government's request, I am calling off the hunger strike," Jarange-Patil said. "There is no need for two months to comply with our demand for Sage Soyare. The government should comply by July 13 or face the consequences. We will field our candidates in all 288 constituencies in the Assembly polls." He emphasised that they were not against OBC rights and prioritised social harmony.

Desai announced that the first meeting to expedite the process would be held on Friday. Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis had also appealed to the activist to withdraw his fast on Wednesday.

Fadnavis stated that the government was positive about Jarange-Patil's demand and had begun the process of issuing certificates to Sage Soyares, the blood relatives of Marathas. "We will speak to the OBC leaders, including Chhagan Bhujbal, and convince them that the notification was not against the OBC quota," he said. "The notification we issued is as per the parameters given by the Supreme Court and does not lead to any injustice to the OBC. We are going to hold discussions with the OBCs and find a way out. We have been taking positive steps towards the demands by the Maratha activists since the beginning under the leadership of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde."

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