The mobilisation of the Maratha community through mammoth marches — each surpassing the previous one — has now reached its last leg with the Sakal Maratha Samaj, an umbrella body of Maratha organisations, turning all its attention to Mumbai where it plans to hold an unprecedented rally in November.
While the marches so far have been leaderless, the agitation is being used by some Maratha leaders to strengthen their position within their respective political parties.
On Monday, scores of Marathas participated in one such silent march in Satara, the erstwhile capital of the Maratha kingdom. The centre of attraction was Udayanraje Bhosale, a descendent of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Local residents said the march was unprecedented as many had to return home up to 10 km from the main venue due to packed roads.
Bhosale, a local MP from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), used the opportunity to firm up his position by taking a more hard-lined stand.
He demanded that the “Atrocity Act be repealed” instead of mere changes, as sought by other leaders from his own party. Many among the community backed Bhosale for his stand.
Bhosale’s participation in organising most rallies is being seen by political observers as his attempt to use caste mobilization to emerge as another power centre within the NCP.
His remarks were in stark contrast to those of party president Sharad Pawar, who has said there is no need to repeal the Act.