Maharashtra CM Fadnavis cancels Pandharpur visit after Maratha groups threaten to disrupt it

Updated on Jul 23, 2018 10:27 AM IST
It’s a long-standing tradition in Maharashtra for the chief minister and his spouse to conduct the morning prayers for the deities at the Lord Vitthal temple in Pandharpur on Ashadi Ekadashi. But CM Fadnavis said he had received intelligence reports that miscreants may try to create trouble.
Maratha Kranti Morcha activists stage protest at Mumbai’s Lalbaug on July 22, 2018, demanding reservations for Maratha community in education and government job.A(Bhushan Koyande/ HT Photo)
Maratha Kranti Morcha activists stage protest at Mumbai’s Lalbaug on July 22, 2018, demanding reservations for Maratha community in education and government job.A(Bhushan Koyande/ HT Photo)
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By, Mumbai

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said he will not visit Pandharpur, in the Solapur district, as planned on Monday — a decision that comes after Maratha outfits threatened to disrupt his visit, as they intensify their agitation for reservations for the community in education and government jobs.

It’s a long-standing tradition in Maharashtra for the chief minister and his spouse to conduct the morning prayers for the deities at the Lord Vitthal temple in Pandharpur on Ashadi Ekadashi. This tradition has been important to the Warkari sect, which has a large following in the state. This is the first time in two decades that a chief minister would not be present for the prayers.

Fadnavis said he had received intelligence reports that miscreants may try to create trouble. “No one can stop me from going for the prayers at Pandharpur,” Fadnavis said. “But, I don’t want to create any trouble for the 10 lakh pilgrims who are already there. There are intelligence inputs that some miscreants can create trouble, which may result in an untoward incident.’’

The CM added that stopping a chief minister from doing the prayers was “absolutely wrong”. “I have been attending the prayer as a representative of the people of Maharashtra. If the community can get reservations by pelting stones at me, then I am ready for that too,’’ he said.

The Maratha protests were triggered in 2016, by the brutal rape and murder of a minor girl in Ahmednagar. The community’s main demand at the time was the death penalty for her attackers. The protests have since grown into a statewide movement, with demands now including reservations in government jobs and education, a revision of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the construction of the Shivaji statue in the Arabian Sea, and freeships to economically backward Maratha students. Between August 9, 2016 and August 9, 2017, the community had held 58 massive silent marches in several parts of the state — the last a massive rally in Mumbai. Now, nearly a year later, several Maratha outfits have once again started increasing the pressure on the state government to fulfil its demands quickly.

The last time a chief minister decided against conducting the prayers at the temple was 1997, when Manohar Joshi was at the helm. Dalit outfits had said they would oppose his visit, after a police firing at Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar in Mumbai left 10 Dalits dead.

Organisers responded to the CM’s statement on Sunday, calling it “irresponsible”. “Basically, he is trying to defame a community that has been peaceful during rallies conducted over the past two years, in which lakhs of people have taken part,” said Virendra Pawar, one of the organisers. “Threatening to stop the CM doesn’t mean he will be attacked. It only means blocking his way, and that too, to highlight our problems,” Pawar said.

Meanwhile, some agitators in Solapur blocked a cavalcade of senior BJP minister Subhash Deshmukh on Sunday, after which the minister promised them that the state would provide reservations in jobs and education to the community by the next Ashadhi Ekadashi. Deshmukh, who is from Solapur, was on his way to Pandharpur when his cavalcade was blocked. Deshmukh tried to pacify the protestors by saying he would resign if the government failed to keep its word.

In Mumbai too, the community held small protests at three places— Lalbaug, Goregaon and Chembur. Pawar said, “This is just the beginning. We will continue our protests in the city in different forms. However, there won’t be any violence.”

Meanwhile, a sit-in protest by the community at Parli, in the Beed district, has entered its sixth day. The community has been demanding 16% reservation in government jobs and education. Currently, it is demanding that the government puts on hold the recruitment for 72,000 posts until the Bombay high court’s verdict on the quota question.

Fadnavis said the government could not hold the entire recruitment process as youths from all the communities will get affected. “We will reserve 16% posts in the name of filling backlog, which means recruitment for these posts is going to be held up,” he said.

As the stir gains momentum once again, political parties in the state criticised the chief minister for failing to resolve the issue. “Fadnavis is facing this disgrace of not being able to attend the special prayers at Pandharpur because, so far, he had being making tall promises,” said Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant.

Jayant Patil, the state NCP chief, said the chief minister wouldn’t have to face such a situation if he had resolved the issue on time. MNS chief Raj Thackeray said the state was using a time-buying tactic. “What is the guarantee the Maratha community will get the 16% reservation?”.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Arun Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, on Friday said that there is no leadership change in the southern state. (HT Photo)

    CM Bommai is here to stay: BJP General Secretary Arun Singh

    Amid the 'Bommai ouster' rumours in Karnataka, BJP General Secretary and state in-charge Arun Singh on Saturday stated that Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai "is here to stay" and will lead the Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming Assembly election. Following this, the position of Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, has been labelled as a "weak chief minister". This election will be fought under the leadership of Basavaraj Bommai assures Arun Singh.

  • Representational image

    Three top leaders of MVA become inmates in Mumbai's Arthur jail

    Nationalist Congress Party leaders Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik and Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who have been arrested in money laundering cases by the Enforcement Directorate, are now lodged in Arthur Road Jail in three different barracks. Malik, who was arrested in February in a money laundering case, is currently admitted to the Criti Care Hospital in Kurla for treatment. He is admitted to a private hospital for the last two months.

  • Officials said that all the four employees were removed from service in line in line with the recommendations of a special task force set up last year by Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha to scrutinise and recommend cases for removal from government service, for alleged terror links. (PTI/ Representational image)

    Bitta Karate’s wife among 4 Jammu and Kashmir employees sacked for terror links

    The Jammu and Kashmir government on Saturday terminated four employees from service, including the son of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin and wife of former militant Bitta Karate - amid probe over terror links, officials said on Saturday. Dr Muheet Ahmad Bhat, and Majid Hussain Qadiri - both of them linked to the University of Kashmir - are the two others employees who have been sacked.

  • Security personnel stand guard at a site where militants hurled a grenade towards CRPF bunker near Ali Masjid Eidgah area, in Srinagar on Saturday. (ANI)

    CRPF man injured in grenade attack in Srinagar

    Suspected militants targeted paramilitary CRPF with a grenade in Srinagar on Saturday, just a day ahead of Independence Day. A CRPF personnel was injured in the attack in the Old City, Eidgah. Srinagar police said that the CRPF personnel received minor injuries in the attack. Local reports said that the grenade was lobbed towards a CRPF bunker in Eidgah in which a sub-inspector of the CRPF was wounded.

  • Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday laid the foundation stone of 25 District Development Council and Block Development Council buildings in J&K. (ANI File Photo)

    Will strike last nail in coffin of terrorism in one year: Jammu and Kashmir L-G Manoj Sinha

    Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday said that within a year government will push the last nail in the coffin of terrorism. Sinha today laid the foundation stone of 25 District Development Council and Block Development Council buildings in J&K, besides inaugurating 1000 Amrit Sarovars across J&K UT, in a function at SKICC, Srinagar.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, August 14, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now