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Fadnavis trying to divide Marathas: Vikhe Patil

Mumbai: Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil today alleged that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ meeting with Maratha leaders, in the backdrop of a number of rallies by them on various issues, is aimed at “creating a rift” in the community.

“The Chief Minister is trying to divide people of Maratha community who are holding peaceful agitations across state.

These agitations are not political in nature but are being held by common people who are frustrated with this government,” he alleged.

“We expected the Chief Minister to hold talks with the organisations that are out on the streets and protesting.

Instead, he chose to ignore them and met only those Maratha leaders who belong to BJP,” Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly said.

Fadnavis yesterday met some Maratha leaders at his residence here and assured them that his government is taking steps to solve “various social issues” concerning them.

He said had Fadnavis been really “positive” to the demands of the Marathas, he would not have hesitated to meet the people who are “actually protesting”.

“On one hand (the Chief Minister is) speaking about holding discussions with community leaders and on the other (he is) inviting only party (BJP) persons. This is an attempt to play the divide and rule game,” Patil alleged.

The Congress leader also announced his participation in the stir of the Marathas scheduled on September 23 in Ahmednagar district.

“Attempts are being made by the BJP to give a political colour to otherwise apolitical agitations and a sense of hatred is being developed in the minds of the Dalit community,” he alleged.

The rallies have been held since August at Aurangabad, Osmanabad, Jalgaon, Beed and Parbhani, and more such programmes are planned in Nanded, Jalna, Solapur, Navi Mumbai, Ahmednagar, Pune, Sangli, Satara.

The trigger for the rallies was the gangrape and murder of a teenage girl in Ahmednagar district. Following the incident, the Marathas are raising demand for amendments to the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, and quota in government jobs and education.

As a counter to rallies by Marathas, many Dalit organisations began staging morchas in Nanded and other parts of the state.