Mumbai, Sep 20: Shiv Sena today took a swipe at NCP supremo Sharad Pawar over the 'silent marches' being taken out by Maratha community across the state, asking why his party did not do anything to meet the demands of the community while it was in power in Maharashtra and at the Centre.
Leaders in Maharashtra have to decide now whether to create an understanding among people or fuel fire over this issue, the party cautioned.
The Maratha community, a dominant force in Maharashtra politics, has been taking out silent marches in various towns in the state over the last one month, following the rape and murder of a girl at Kopardi in Ahmednagar district two months ago. The victim belongs to a Maratha community, while the culprits are Dalits.
Also, in an oblique reference to the outside support extended by the NCP to the BJP after 2014 assembly polls, the Sena aslo asked Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to be wary of "allies" trying to weaken his position.
Taking potshots at Pawar, the Sena said his party, while in power for 15 years in the state, should have taken firm decisions over issues being raised by the Maratha community.
"The ongoing Maratha agitation is like a storm which nobody in Maharashtra is capable of handling. Leaders in Maharashtra have to decide now whether to create an understanding among people or fuel fire over this issue," an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana' said.
If Pawar thinks that the current Maratha stir is a result of people's lack of faith in the government over issues like agriculture and reservation, his thinking is flawed, the Sena said.
"It was Pawar's government in the state and at the Centre until yesterday, in which he was the Agriculture Minister for 10 years. The Congress and the NCP had the opportunity to take a decision on reservation for 15 years," it said.
"Why did they not take a decision then ? It would be good if the agitators understood this question. When Pawar says the government should take a decision over the issue, he is conceding that they (NCP and Congress) wasted 15 years," the Sena said.
The ruling alliance partner futher said that the issue is being milked by vested interests and trying to make the chief minister vulnerable. "Never has a CM lost his chair due to morchas being taken out against the government. The CM only needs to make sure that this issue is not being used by allies to weaken his chair," the Sena said.
Yesterday, the community members took out a huge 'silent protest march' ("Muk Morcha") at Jalna in Marathwada.
Notably, in a move aimed at countering the silent morchas of the Maratha community, the state government had yesterday appointed Rajya Sabha member and heir of Warrior King Chattrapati Shivaji, Sambhajiraje Bhosale as its tourism brand ambassador.