Jalna (Maharashtra), Nov 2 (SocialNews.XYZ) Melting after two retired Bombay High Court judges gave him a plain talk and pleas with folded hands by cabinet ministers, Shivba Sanghatana President Manoj Jarange-Patil on Thursday evening finally ended his 9-day long hunger strike and agreed to give more time to the Maharashtra government to take a decision on Maratha quotas.
Heeding to some realistic suggestions made by the retired judges – Justice M. G. Gaikwad and Justice S. B. Shukre, plus Ministers Atul Save, Dhananjay Munde, Uday Samant, and Sandipan Bhumre, Jarange-Patil said that he would give a two-month extension – till January 2, 2024 – to the government to implement Maratha reservation.
"This is the final ultimatum… Take this new deadline extension and give us the quotas. If you betray us, then Marathas from all over Maharashtra will troop to Mumbai and lay siege on its borders," he warned, and after his address, accepted a glass of water and sipped some fruit juice, ending his rigorous fast-unto-death.
The Maratha leader cautioned that although he had called off his rigorous hunger strike, a relay hunger fast will be continued by his followers, as the huge gathering of villagers applauded and cheered, and the government heaved a sigh of relief.
Earlier this evening, the retired judges – Justice Gaikwad and Justice Shukre – gently explained to him the stark legal realities of the complications in giving reservations in such a short time as it would not withstand the scrutiny of the courts. When Jarange-Patil demanded to know why the government cannot issue the ‘Kunbi Caste’ certificates to all Marathas based on the 11,530 such old entries found in the past couple of months, the judges said this is because it has yet to be ascertained that the Marathas are a ‘backward’ community.
They pointed out that this is part of the observations made by the Supreme Court and the government can only follow the apex court’s guidelines in the matter, and a separate commission on Marathas would be set up.
The retired judges made it clear that it is not possible to declare reservations in "one or two days" as Jarange-Patil sought, as it would not stand up in the courts. They said that in order to complete the legal formalities to make the quotas fool-proof, it would take at least a couple of months and requested him for more time to finalise it.
The Ministers, who met him and at one point, folded their hands before Jarange-Patil, conveyed the sentiments of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, on how the government is "committed to giving reservations" at all costs, but wanted to ensure that it should be fool-proof.
On behalf of the government - which tottered on the brink in the past few weeks - Minister Munde assured that all the cases filed against Maratha activists in connection with the agitation launched from August 29, would be withdrawn in due course in the coming few weeks.
The government will also convene a special session of the legislature to discuss the quotas issues on December 8, at which Jarange-Patil expressed his satisfaction, and CM Shinde was likely to speak to him later tonight.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)