Satej Patil, a minister in the MVA government led by CM Uddhav Thackeray, invited MP Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, spearheading the Maratha agitation, to find a solution to the reservation demand.

Even as the Maratha community began its silent protests at Shahu Samadhi in Kolhapur on Wednesday, the state government invited MP Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, spearheading the agitation, to hold a dialogue and find a solution to the reservation demand.

“The government is positive about resolving the Maratha community’s demands. On behalf of the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, I invite you to hold talks with the government and to find a solution to the demands raised by the community,” said Satej Patil, a state minister in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

The agitation started around 10 am this morning. MLAs and MPs from across the party lines were present and expressed their support to the Maratha community.

Stating that the government supports the stance adopted by the Maratha community, Patil said, “The government has already taken some steps for welfare of the Maratha community and will take more steps as demanded by the community. And for this to happen, the government is ready hold dialogue. Sambhajiraje and Maratha community coordinators should meet the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister in Mumbai. They are ready for a dialogue tomorrow itself,” he said.

Patil said whether it was about strengthening SARTHI (Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research Training and Human Development Institute), giving more funds to Annasaheb Patil Mahamandal, setting up hostels or giving scholarships to the Maratha community students, the government has already initiated steps in that direction. “The government spared no effort in meeting the demands raised by the community,” he said.

Urging political parties to not play politics on the reservation issue, another state minister Hasan Mushrif, also from Kolhapur district, said, “It was not the time to play politics. The Maratha community is not demanding reservation in politics. It is demanding reservation in education and jobs. What is wrong in this? The community has suffered for long and their demands are just and reasonable. We should all extend our support to the community’s fight for reservation by keeping politics out of it,” he said.

Mushrif said that the erstwhile Prithviraj Chavan government and its successor, the Devendra Fadnavis government, both, had made mistakes while giving reservation to the Maratha community. “Because of the mistakes of the two governments, the reservation for the community was not upheld in the courts. First, our Congress-NCP government appointed Narayan Rane committee to look into the reservation demand of the community instead of appointing a commission. That is why it was not upheld in the court. Subsequently, the Fadnavis government gave reservation to the Maratha community when the Centre had withdrawn powers of the state government to do so. The Supreme Court then quashed the reservation upheld by the Bombay High Court on May 5. We should learn from these mistakes and come up with a strong and foolproof solution so that the Maratha community gets the reservation which they deserve. How long will we mislead the community?” he said.

Echoing Patil’s views, Mushrif said, “The government has stepped forward with a positive mindset to resolve the community’s grievances. Therefore, the Maratha community should also come forward and hold thorough discussion over their demands. I am sure a solution can be found.”

Shahu Maharaj Chhatrapati, who also addressed the gathering, urged the Maratha coordinators to take their demands to the Prime Minister. “We should take our demand to the Prime Minister…Also, we should hold dialogue with the Chief Minister,” he said.

Both Patil and Mushrif praised the Maratha community and Sambhajiraje for showing patience and holding the agitation in silence. “The government appreciates the patience shown by the community,” he said.

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