CHHATRAPATI SAMBHAJINAGAR/PUNE: OBC activists Laxman Hake and Navnath Waghmare suspended their indefinite hunger strike on its tenth day on Saturday following a written assurance from state govt on the protection of reservations for the community.
On Saturday, a second state govt delegation, led by food and civil supplies minister Chhagan Bhujbal, met the agitators at Wadigodri village with the govt’s written assurance, stating that none of the backward community reservations would be diluted or affected.Suspending his strike, Hake called this a “30-40% win”.
Bhujbal, however, warned his own govt that the fight to safeguard the OBC rights has only been temporarily halted, and it would continue till the community gets justice.
Chief minister Eknath Shinde, who was in Nashik, also thanked Hake for withdrawing his strike. He said govt was committed to resolving the OBC-Maratha reservation issue amicably. “We will soon convene an all-party meeting soon to discuss and resolve the issue in the interest of all the people of the state,” he said.
The state delegation also visited Pune to convince OBC activist Mangesh Sasane, who too was observing a hunger strike. While Hake and Sasane withdrew their hunger strikes, Bhujbal said that the fight was not over yet.
OBC activists suspend strike for quota
Addressing OBC supporters in Pune, Bhujbal said, “This fight is far from over. We have a long way to go. Though Hake and Sasane have withdrawn their hunger strikes, the agitation has only been halted. When we feel that OBCs are facing injustice, the fight will resume.”
He added that issuance of OBC certificates to the Maratha community members would not be accepted. “We have observed that Kunbi certificates to the Maratha community members have been issued without adequate verification. This is nothing but a backdoor entry into the OBC quota. We will not allow this. We will raise the issue in the all-party meeting,” Bhujbal said. Accusing the opposition of politicising the Maratha-OBC issue, he said, “I warned those parties not to use the issue in the election agenda. Elections will come and go, but due to politicisation of the issue, several generations will suffer consequences.”
On Friday, a first state govt delegation had met the two OBC activists but had failed to convince them to end their hunger strike. As a result, govt sent a second delegation. Apart from Bhujbal, ministers Uday Samant, Girish Mahajan, Dhananjay Munde, Atul Save, Gulabrao Patil, MLC Gopichand Padalkar and OBC leader Prakash Shendge were part of this second delegation.
When contacted, Hake told TOI: “The state govt delegation has assured us that all caste certificates will be linked with Aadhaar, a cabinet sub-panel for OBCs will be formed and the sage soyare law will be passed only after it is discussed in an all-party meeting. We have also been assured that govt employees issuing bogus Kunbi certificates as well as those receiving them will be prosecuted.”
After calling of the strike, Hake and Waghmare were admitted to a hospital in Jalna.
In Wadigodri, Bhujbal, without naming Maratha activist Manoj Jarange, said, “When will the injustice against us end? Their bullying will not be tolerated. Quota is not for wiping out poverty. It is for bringing the backward communities into the mainstream.” Minister Dhananjay Munde said state govt is making efforts to ensure that nobody’s rights are encroached upon. “Our govt does not want any friction between the Marathas and OBCs.,” he said.