In what it could be called as a damage control exercise the Shiv Sena has offered a helping hand to the Maratha community which is all set to take out a march in Mumbai on Wednesday pressing its demand of 16 percent reservation to the community in government jobs.
The march will begin at Veermata Jijabai Zoo at Byculla at around 10 in the morning. The protesters will march towards Azad Maidan in south Mumbai.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has instructed the party workers at each of its 227 units to serve water and food to the protesters who are expected to throng in large number via buses and railway. “The protesters will be from all parts of Maharashtra. We will ensure that they feel comfortable in Mumbai,” Yuva Sena chief Adtiya Thackeray told India Today.
Political observers believe that Shiv Sena is trying to bridge the gap with the community by offering the helping hand. The party had faced a wide criticism last year when its mouth piece Saamna published a derogatory cartoon on the Maratha march.
A source in Shiv Sena claimed that the party also has offered to carry the burden of funds required to organise the march. However, there was no confirmation on this from the organisers of the march. Kedar Suryawanshi, one of the organisers, said that the march will be apolitical. “We are going to accommodate everyone who is willing to join us,” he said.
Surywanshi, however, refused to predict on the number of protestors likely to join the march. “It is difficult to predict the number. One thing is sure. This march will be the biggest till date,” he said.
The first Maratha march was taken out on August 9 last year protesting the killing of a teenager Maratha girl after brutal rape at a village Kopardi in Ahmednagar district. The protestors gradually turned their demands from punishment to the guilty in Kopardi case to reservation to the community in government jobs and educational institutes. The community has so far taken out 57 marches across the state in a year.