With six parties in the fray, the BJP-led ruling alliance faces a tightrope walk in the region where the Maratha community is firm on its reservation demand.

Smitha Nair

By Smitha Nair

Antarwali Sarati, a village with a population of just around 3,000, has been visited by every politician of note in Maharashtra over the last year.

In September, a sit-in protest in this village in Jalna district’s Ambad tehsil by Marathas seeking reservations in educational institutions and government jobs was met by brutal police batons. This lit a political firestorm and catapulted the village – and the activist leading the agitation – into prominence. Manoj Jarange Patil, a 41-year- old with no political affiliation, has since managed to rally the significant Maratha community around him.

“Initially the government took my agitation lightly and they saw what happened,” Jarange Patil told Scroll in between consultations with community members about the agitation. “If they take me lightly politically, they will do so at their own peril.”

In the Marathwada region, where Marathas make up 40% of the population in some pockets, this may not be an empty boast. The region has eight Lok Sabha and 46 assembly seats. Maharashtra assembly polls are scheduled for later this year.

This story was originally published in scroll.in. Read the full story here.