Marathas, RPI join hands to seek quota for community

In an indication of changing political equations in Maharashtra, Republican Party of India (RPI) has joined hands with several Maratha organisations to demand inclusion of the community in the OBC category.

Leaders of Maratha organisations, including Chhava and Maratha Seva Sangh, and RPI met state industries minister Narayan Rane Saturday.

They threatened a state-wide agitation if the demand was not met by January 26.

"Thousands of Marathas are not getting their due in education and employment. We want the state to recommend to the Centre their inclusion among OBCs," RPI leader Ramdas Athawale said.

The politically powerful Maratha community, to which 50 per cent of elected representatives in the state belong, has been demanding OBC status for long.

Mandal Commission listed it as a forward community. Marathas, however, claim economic growth of the community has slowed and many young members are not getting jobs. They are demanding 25 per cent reservation in jobs.

"Because of the economic and educational status, many Maratha youth are turning militant. If our demand for reservation is not met, we will not allow politicians to move around the state," founder president of Chhava Anna Jawle Patil said.

Alarmed at the flexing of political muscle by a slew of Maratha politicians, the state appointed a one-man committee under Rane earlier this month to see how the Centre could be persuaded to include the community in the OBC category.

Patil and Athawale said Rane promised to look into their demands in a positive way.

Meanwhile, the alliance of RPI and Maratha groups has set tongues wagging as their leaders have fought pitched battles in the past in parts of Marathwada and Vidarbha.

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