Mumbai: Even as a beleaguered Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met with prominent Maratha personalities and assured them of a “legally tenable" solution to their quota demand, organizations spearheading the protests issued an ultimatum to the state government to announce a time-bound programme to implement quota.
Along with senior Maharashtra ministers from both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena, Fadnavis held a meeting with Maratha intellectuals, social reformers, activists, actors, businesspersons and prominent personalities from others walks of life, seeking to convey the government’s commitment towards quota for the community.
Later, a joint statement by all those who attended the meeting was issued, which said that the demands raised by the Marathas were “just and realistic" and the government must immediately take steps to provide quota that can withstand the legal test. The community representatives also appealed for peace and social harmony, asking the protesters to shun violence in the “larger interest of the state".
Separately, Fadnavis told reporters that the “government will complete all legal formalities as early as possible to provide a legally tenable quota to the Marathas" and appealed for peace.
However, the Sakal Maratha Samaj, at its meeting in Parali in Marathwada, refused to suspend the"‘peaceful protests", besides organizing sit-in demonstrations if the state government failed to deliver on their demand.
“Since the Maratha protests started from Parali, the government must come to Parali to hold talks. We will not go for talks to Mumbai. We want a written commitment from the government, spelling out the time frame for quota by 7 August," said Aba Patil, one of the coordinators of the organization.
Actor Sayaji Shinde, who attended the meeting, said that all the personalities from the Maratha community asked the government to “do all it can at the earliest to give quota to the Marathas".
However, not all those who were invited attended the meeting. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur, the 12th direct descendant of Shivaji, and the father of Rajya Sabha BJP MP Sambhajiraje, said: “Since the government agrees, there was no point in attending the meeting, as it was not going to give the quota the very next day. Besides, we have always made an appeal to the community for peace." Veteran Maratha historian Jaisingrao Pawar also stayed away from the meeting for similar reasons.