After massive rallies in various parts of the state, the Maratha community on Thursday held a silent march in Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar family’s bastion Baramati.
Baramati has a large number of people from the OBC and Dhangar community. The march, which began at 11.30am, saw participation of Pawar’s extended family, although the face of the party -- NCP chief’s daughter Supriya Sule and nephew Ajit -- remained absent as they were in Mumbai to attend a party meeting.
Youngsters and women holding placards took part in the march that started from the main Kasba area of Baramati, which is represented in the Lok Sabha by Sule and state Assembly by Ajit. In the past three decades, Pawar senior has represented Baramati at the Centre and the state.
Although Maratha outfits such as Sambhaji Brigade and Maratha Seva Sangh are mainly organising the rallies, political circles are abuzz about NCP’s hand in galvanising the community, which forms its core votebank. Political observers feel the absence of Pawar, Ajit and Sule was an indication of their cautious stand to show the NCP was not behind the current unrest in the community.
According to organisers, 2,500 volunteers ensured the march was disciplined. The march came in the backdrop of Pawar family’s aggressive stand against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Pawar recently said the government should ensure the Maratha community gets reservation without disturbing the OBC quota at the earliest. Ajit Pawar, who participated in the march at Pune, said, “Even though lakhs of Marathas have come out on the streets, the Fadnavis government is not taking steps to address the problems of the community.”
Scores of Marathas have participated in silent marches across the state demanding reservation to the community, amendment to the Atrocities Act and capital punishment for perpetrators of Kopardi crime – where a minor Maratha girl was allegedly raped and murdered by three suspects from the Dalit community.