In a veiled barb at the state BJP leadership, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday said knowing what is the right moment to stage a protest and when dialogue is a better option is the hallmark of a "true leader". He was speaking at a virtual function to mark the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, the reformist ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Kolhapur.
There were legal hurdles in the implementation of the Maratha quota -- quashed by the Supreme Court in May -- and a legal solution needs to be found, Thackeray said. Protesting on the streets should be avoided during the COVID-19 pandemic, and "taking an appropriate decision on when to protest and when to have dialogue is the hallmark of a true leader," he said.
"A true leader is one who protects the community in terms of employment, education and health. Spreading the virus through a show of strength is not right. We are doing all we can to fight the legal case. A review petition has been filed," he said. "Taking to the streets for rightful and just demands is in the blood of the Shiv Sena. But we know that when there is unanimity and agreement over an issue, protest should stop and dialogue should take place," the chief minister said.
"Several people are still protesting, and it is better not to talk about them," he added, while praising BJP Rajya Sabha member Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati for deferring his agitation for Maratha quota and agreeing to talk to the government.
The BJP is trying to corner the government over the issues of Maratha quota in education and government jobs and political reservation for OBCs. On Saturday it held protests across the state on the issue of reservation for OBCs in local government bodies. The chief minister on this occasion also inaugurated the Kolhapur sub-centre of SARTHI.
The Pune-based Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research Training and Human Development Institute (SARTHI) works for research, policy advocacy and training for social, economic and educational development of the Maratha community.