Mumbai: Not many people thought that things can change so soon. Muslims had supported Marathas during their just concluded agitation for reservation. Muslim community provided refreshments, water and other facilities during Maratha protests across the state, and this seems to have created a sort of bonhomie between Marathas and the Muslim community throughout Maharashtra.
Images of Muslims providing cold water during sweltering heat of September amidst peaceful Maratha protests across the state were almost everywhere. This was seen not just in Aurangabad or Usmanabad, but in almost every city and taluka of the state. This has created a bonhomie that was absent for a long time.
The Marathas who believe that they have been left behind in terms of prosperity and educational development compared to others in the state, especially Mumbaikars came onto road to demand reservation. Muslim community across the state supported them throughout their silent and peaceful protests.
Impressed by this gesture of support and bonhomie, the 30 percent strong Maratha community in the state is solidly behind Muslims in their demand for reservation in job and education.
Muslim community seems to have come together to demand reservation like never before. The community leaders who had gathered at Buldhana for a peaceful protest march earlier this week warned the government that they won’t be able guarantee peace if the community’s demands are not met soon. On the other hand, the Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP) came forward with a demand regarding reservation for Muslims. Meanwhile, BJP MP Nana Patole raised the issue of long-pending scholarship to OBC students and demanded a separate department for OBC welfare.
The people who are at the forefront of the reservation agitation for Muslims are Congress leader Mohammed Arif (Naseem) Khan and Samajwadi Party’s Abu Asim Azmi. Khan who was minister for minority affairs in the UPA government, raised questions over Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s statement where he assured reservation for the Maratha community. “The CM is not touching the issue of reservations for Muslims. The Congress would lead an agitation against this bias,” he said. In the meantime Sharad Pawar led NCP too has lent its support to the Muslim community’s demands.
The best part about Muslims’ demand for Muslim reservations in the government jobs is the fact that this time it is being supported by the Maratha leaders. Whether this pitching will actually help in getting a reserved seat needs to be seen but for now, it is indicating towards a new potential alliance in Maharashtra.
Maratha leaders in different parts of the state who were impressed by Muslims’ support to their agitation said that the Muslims extended their voice not only to them during their Maratha Kranti Morcha marches but also by providing help in the form of amenities like refreshment.
A prominent Maratha leader Ajay Bhosale of the Sambhaji Brigade, which has been leading Maratha morchas from the front across the state said ‘They did not just join the marches, but also extended help like giving water and refreshments to the participants. And this happened across Maharashtra.’
Now this seems to be payback time for them. And they are not going to abandon Muslims when they want support. This is the reason that they are standing united for the Muslim community’s call for reservation in jobs. He added that just like their community, the Muslims too have a large section struggling with poverty and unemployment. He said that this is because they have no reservations and that is why they will extend their support to them for the Government to take notice.
Meanwhile Dalits too have come forward to support Muslims demand this time. Dalit leaders like Prakash Ambedkar and Ramdas Athawale are backing the marches while more such marches are now being planned in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra. This is a welcome development and shows how small actions can help remove misgivings and bring communities together.