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Maratha body allies with Sena-BJP

Maratha Mahasangh, an influential caste-based group that has supported ruling Cong-NCP coalition, has decided to root for Shiv Sena and BJP
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, Mumbai
UPDATED ON APR 04, 2004 03:10 PM IST

The Maratha Mahasangh, an influential caste-based group that has supported the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) coalition, has decided to root for the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"While the Congress and the NCP only made promises, we expect a lot better from the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance," Shashikant Pawar, president of the Mahasangh, told IANS.

The Mahasangh leaders say the Maratha community, categorised among the Other Backward Castes (OBC) in Maharashtra, has not benefited economically over the decades.

Pawar said the Mahasangh would turn the Maratha community into a strong vote bank to demand concessions from political parties that come to power in Maharashtra.

Sharad Pawar has portrayed himself as a Maratha strongman thanks to the strength of the Mahasangh's association with the Congress and NCP.

The Mahasangh was formed in 1981 as a caste-welfare organisation by Annasaheb Patil, a Maharashtra politician. It seeks to tap the strength of the Maratha community that accounts for 30 percent of the state's population.

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