Marathas to Hold ‘Mother of All Ral­lies’ To­day

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Kr­ishna.Ku­mar @times­group.com

Mum­bai: It has been billed as the ‘mother of all ral­lies’ and it’s go­ing to shut down Mum­bai on Wed­nes­day. The Maratha com­mu­nity is go­ing to take out a mas­sive mor­cha from Mum­bai’s Ji­ja­mata Udyan in By­culla to Azad Maidan.

The rally is meant to be a show of strength by the Maratha com­mu­nity which has ex­horted peo­ple from the en­tire state to come and join the rally.

While the Mum­bai Po­lice of­fi­cials ex­pect a crowd of around 2 lakh, Maratha lead­ers are putting the num­ber to be around15-25 lakh. Congress leader Narayan Rane, also from the com­mu­nity, has en­dorsed the higher fig­ure while speaking to re­porters on Tues­day.

Re­gard­less of the fig­ure, Mum­bai es­pe­cially south Mum­bai would be paral­ysed as even a 1,000 odd peo­ple con­verg­ing on the roads throws traf­fic off gear. The Maratha com­mu­nity, the state’s most pow­er­ful in the state, has been car­ry­ing out ral­lies since Au­gust last year af­ter the bru­tal gan­grape and mur­der of a mi­nor girl from the com­mu­nity in Kopardi, al­legedly by some Dal­its.

The first rally in Au­rangabad hap­pened spon­ta­neously, de­mand­ing death penalty for the gan­grape ac­cussed. The mor­chas, which are ‘silent ral­lies’ with no po­lit­i­cal speeches made, are led by young girls. This quickly caught on and ral­lies took place in sev­eral parts of the state. Soon more de- mands be­gan to be added dur­ing the ral­lies like reser­va­tion in ed­u­ca­tion and jobs for the com­mu­nity, amend­ments to the Sched­uled Castes and Sched­uled Tribes (Pre­ven­tion of Atroc­i­ties) Act which the Marathas claim is be­ing mis­used against them by the Dalit com­mu­nity. They have also de­manded a min­i­mum sup­port price for farm pro­duce.

In the past, there were nu­mer­ous at­tempts to take out a rally in Mum­bai, how­ever, at least three such at­tempts have failed. Rally or­gan­is­ers have ac­cused Chief Min­is­ter Deven­dra Fad­navis of scut­tling plans for hold­ing a rally in Mum­bai by sow­ing seeds of di­vi­sion within the com­mu­nity.

BJP lead­ers said the gov­ern­ment is wor­ried about the pos­si­bil­ity of a law & order prob­lem dur­ing such a mas­sive rally. “If there is any un­to­ward in­ci­dent or vi­o­lence, it could have mas­sive ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the gov­ern­ment, es­pe­cially for the Chief Min­is­ter,” said a BJP leader.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Prakash Joshi said the cur­rent ag­i­ta­tion does have po­lit­i­cal over­tones. “Many Maratha lead­ers have lost the 2014 elec­tions, so it does have po­lit­i­cal over­tones. The Marathas are also try­ing to ar­tic­u­late the sen­ti­ment shared by the Dhangars and other com­mu­ni­ties of be­ing in­cluded in the OBC cat­e­gory,” said Joshi.

The state on its part is get­ting fully pre­pared to avoid any un­to­ward in­ci­dent on Wed­nes­day. Schools in south Mum­bai will be shut tomorrow. Even the famed Mum­bai dab­bawal­las, who sel­dom shut shop, have de­cided to par­tic­i­pate in the ag­i­ta­tion. The Rail­ways will run ex­tra trains to cater to the huge crowd troop­ing into the city from the in­te­ri­ors of the state. The Mum­bai po­lice have closed many roads, in­clud­ing the JJ fly­over, for ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic as the Maratha mor­cha is set to be­gin from By­culla Zoo and cul­mi­nate at Azad Maidan be­tween 11 am and 5 pm. The BMC is pro­vid­ing mo­bile toi­lets, a few roads have also been widened as part of the prepa­ra­tions.

SHOW OF STRENGTH

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