OBCs plan rally in Mumbai to defend 27 per cent reservation
Around 40-odd OBC organisations will come together to set up a state-wide platform, Maharashtra OBC Mahasangh or the Maharashtra OBC Parishad, to ensure their 27% reservation is not reduced to accommodate the Marathas’ demand for a quota in jobs and education.mumbai Updated: Oct 20, 2016 00:21 IST
Maharashtra is headed for a showdown between two major communities, the Other Backward Classes and the Marathas, with the OBCs mobilising numbers for a mega rally in the city in December.
Around 40-odd OBC organisations will come together to set up a state-wide platform, Maharashtra OBC Mahasangh or the Maharashtra OBC Parishad, to ensure their 27% reservation is not reduced to accommodate the Marathas’ demand for a quota in jobs and education.
Dalits, Muslims and other OBCs from Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi will also lend support to the December rally.
Two other demands of the OBCs, who are estimated to constitute 52% of Maharashtra’s population, colour their protest as distinctly anti-Maratha.
These include a call for a more stringent implementation of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act with a condition that OBCs also be given protection under this law and a drive against giving bogus caste certificates to Marathas.
“Our central demand is that the 27% reservation for OBCs should not be impacted when reservation is given to Marathas. We are setting up an umbrella organisation of all OBC organisations and an 11-member committee has been constituted too. While there is a district-level rally in Beed on Thursday and another in Nagpur, our main goal is the Mumbai rally in the first week of December,” said Anil Mahajan, president of the Mali Samaj Mahasangh.
In Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, the National OBC Federation, an organisation led by educationist Babanrao Tayade, is looking at bringing together all OBC voices on one platform.
“We are talking to all organisations, including Mali Mahasangh, to draw up a final road map for our protests. This is not aimed against any community; it is a bid to increase awareness about our constitutional rights as guaranteed by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar,” said Dr Kushelchandra Bopche, former BJP MP and MLA and political convenor for the National OBC Federation.
Political observers said that in the absence of a central OBC leadership in Maharashtra after the death of senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde and with NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal in jail, the mobilisation of OBCs is being carried out through varied groups and the leadership is up for grabs. There is also speculation that the BJP is using the OBC mobilisation to defuse the Maratha protests.
In Maharashtra politics, OBCs are the second-most influential group after Marathas. They are more in number but divided into various castes that support different political parties. Two major OBC castes—Vanjari and Mali—are most active in the current mobilisation.
On Thursday, a district-level rally by OBCs will be held in Beed.
The final show of strength rally will be in Mumbai but a lot will depend on how these protests play against the Maratha protests and what role is played by the state . For now, the state is likely to just wait and watch.