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Amid quota unrest and divided party loyalties, these five groups are key to Maharashtra’s results | Political impulse news

IN THE five-phase elections to the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra that concluded on Monday, with the Mahayuti and Maha Vikas Aghadi coalitions locked in an intense battle, five groups will be a deciding factor: the Marathas, the OBCs, the Muslims and Dalits. and tribes.

The run-up to the Lok Sabha elections was marked by reservation-seeking unrest within the Maratha community, which was given new impetus by hunger strikes led by Manoj Jarange Patil. The Marathas constitute 33% of the state’s population, and as their protests showed no signs of subsiding, the Mahayuti government eventually announced a 10% quota for the economically backward among them. However, the community is still not convinced that this will go to trial.

The MVA is banking that the discontent within the Marathas will be reflected in the eight Lok Sabha constituencies falling in the Marathwada region, where resentment is also building over the ongoing water crisis.

While Jarange Patil focused his attacks on BJP Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the Mahayuti accused the activist of acting at the behest of MVA leaders, especially Sharad Pawar.

OBCs

The protests in the Maratha reservation created a counter-polarization among OBCs in the Marathwada region, who fear that any quota for the community, which remains socially and politically dominant, will come at their expense. Under the banner of the Sakal Maharashtra OBC Sangh, community leaders tried to rally the various groups falling under Other Backward Classes.

Festive offer

Together, the OBCs, a conglomerate of multiple communities and sub-categories, constitute 52% of the state’s population, with the dominant categories being Mallis, Dhangars and Vanjaris. They are believed to wield immense influence in the Vidarbha, North Maharashtra and Marathwada regions.

OBC leaders Baban Taywade and Prakash Shendge, among others, led the movement against ‘Maratha aggression’. Shendge told The Indian Express: “Our central issue was to defeat the Marathas’ plan to dilute the OBC reservation… The Marathas are a politically dominant community. We have no objection to a separate 10% quota for them. But inclusion within the existing OBC quota is absolutely unacceptable.”

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The Mahayuti, who were believed to enjoy Maratha support, urged the OBCs by telling them that they would not allow dilution of their existing quota.

Dalits

Of the total 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state, five are reserved for Scheduled Castes: Ramtek, Amravati, Shirdi, Latur and Solapur. In 2019, the BJP and the undivided Shiv Sena had won two seats each, with an independent winning one.

Besides these five SC-reserved seats, as many as 32 of the 48 constituencies spread across all five regions of the state – Vidarbha, North Maharashtra, West Maharashtra, Konkan and Marathwada – have concentrated Dalit pockets. The population ranges from 10.5% to 16% in some of these constituencies.

Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) president Prakash Ambedkar, whose party is the largest Dalit party involved in these elections, told The Indian Express that the Maratha quota agitation and poll rhetoric “are bridging the gap between caste and community sharper in the 2024 period. Lok Sabha polls”, where the “targeting” of Muslims and Dalits is likely to have lasting consequences.

“Irrespective of the election outcome, it is unfortunate that Maharashtra, whose strength was reforms and progressive prospects, has emerged badly bruised,” the VBA leader claimed. Incidentally, the MVA was very interested in working with the VBA, but Ambedkar persisted before deciding not to join the alliance.

According to Dalit writer Arjun Dangle, the poll narrative by INDIA bloc parties, including the MVA, about a ‘threat to the Constitution’ struck a chord with Dalits. “When some BJP leaders publicly declared that if voted to power, they would change the Constitution, it not only created a problem for the opposition but also created a sense of fear among Dalits,” Dangle said.

The NDA deployed its Dalit face and Union Minister Ramdas Athavale, leader of the RPI(A), to counter the opposition campaign.

Muslims

When the Shiv Sena split between the BJP-led NDA and the INDIA bloc, Muslim community leaders for the first time found themselves siding with a relative of Thackeray. Sena (UBT) leader and MVA member Uddhav Thackeray also went out of his way to woo the community.

According to the 2011 census, Muslims constituted 11.54% of Maharashtra’s population. In some key constituencies in Marathwada, Mumbai and North Maharashtra, their numbers are as high as 25%.

Tribes

The tribes constitute a significant 8% of Maharashtra’s population, with four constituencies reserved for Scheduled Tribes: Nandurbar, Dindori, Gadchiroli-Chimur and Palghar. Apart from these four reserved seats, Dhangar’s tribal bench is a key factor in Western Maharashtra, North Maharashtra and Vidarbha constituencies.