MUMBAI: Mumbai was engulfed by a ‘Maratha storm’ as lakhs of the politically powerful community prepared for their first, biggest and final mammoth ‘mook morcha’ (silent procession) to demand reservations in jobs and education, here on Wednesday.
Started since August 9, 2016, with processions in 57 different cities, the Maratha Kranti Morcha made its maiden entry in the state capital and ended the year-long campaign through processions by submitting a memo to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The state government, police, BMC and other agencies were fully geared since the past 24 hours as participants in the mega-morcha started trickling in from different parts of the state since Monday night.
While the authorities anticipate the participation of between 500,000-800,000 Marathas from across the state, the organisers are optimistic it will be the jewel in the crown of all morchas so far with the figure crossing three million.
Senior Congress leader Narayan Rane told media persons that the procession will start marching from Byculla, south Mumbai at 11 a.m. in a peaceful and orderly manner, silently, without political speeches and terminate at the historic Azad Maidan some four kms away at 5 p.m.
“Thereafter, a delegation of Maratha leaders will meet the Chief Minister and submit a memorandum listing the various demands.
“Though there are many demands, the stress will be on education and job reservations for the Maratha community members,” said Rane, a former Chief Minister and a prominent Maratha leader himself.
He had headed a special committee appointed by the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party regime to study the socio-economic conditions of the Maratha community.
Wednesday’s procession has bagged the support of all the political parties with even the NDA constituents Shiv Sena and Republican Party of India(A) announcing their backing late on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Maratha brigade which trooped into Mumbai from the five entry points, besides the railways, resulted in huge traffic jams in Mumbai and adjacent districts of Thane, Raigad and Palghar.
They have been reaching the state capital by trains, private vehicles, trucks, tempos and even two-wheelers waving Maratha flags and sporting bright orange turbans, entering through railway stations and the entry points.
The Mumbai Police have geared up with over 7,000 personnel, including commandos, armed police, cops in plainclothes, assigned for providing security duties during the procession.
The police plan to make big use of the social media like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, FM radios and other media to provide updates on traffic to the millions of office-goers in the morning and evening peak hours.
All schools and colleges in south Mumbai were ordered shut by Education Minister Vinod Tawde on the day to ensure students were not inconvenienced during the procession.