A delegation of the Maharashtra government, comprising ministers, on Tuesday failed to convince Manoj Jarange, whose hunger strike for Maratha quota entered the 8th day, to withdraw his protest.
Jarange, who has been holding the hunger protest in Antarwali Sarati village in Jalna district, said he would stop drinking water and fluids after four days if a favourable decision on quota is not taken.
The government has so far reached out to Jarange twice urging him to withdraw the fast, but he has refused to budge.
Last Friday, police baton-charged and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse a violent mob in Antarwali Sarathi village after protesters allegedly refused to let authorities shift Jarange, who has been on a fast since August 29, to hospital.
Several persons, including 40 police personnel, were injured and more than 15 state transport buses were set ablaze in the violence.
On Tuesday, Minister of Tourism Girish Mahajan along with his cabinet colleagues Sandipan Bhumre and Atul Save met Jarange and urged him to call off the protest.
They were joined by MLAs Narayan Kuche, Rajesh Tope and ex-legislator Arjun Khotkar.
Mahajan asked Jarange to accompany them to Mumbai and hold talks with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on the issue, but he refused.
"We are giving four days to the government. If the government fails to issue GR (resolution) on the Maratha reservation, I will quit water, juice and IV fluids," he told Mahajan.
Mahajan told Jarange that a sub-committee has completed 60-70 per cent of the work on preparing a report.
"The government needs at least 30 days to decide because of some technical difficulties. We need to do concrete work on this issue. But the decision can come even before that. We are concerned about your health," Mahajan said.
However, Jarange said the agitation would continue peacefully and he would cooperate with the government. "But I will quit water if a decision is not taken within four days."
Jarange said the delegation returned to Mumbai after a call couldn't get connected for further talks.
"The delegation members said they would come back tomorrow," he said.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday said a committee will submit its report within a month on how to issue Kunbi caste certificates to Marathas from Marathwada region.
Reservation in jobs and education provided by the Maharashtra government to the Maratha community in 2018 when Fadnavis was chief minister was quashed by the Supreme Court in May 2021, citing the 50 per cent ceiling on total reservations among other grounds.