Watch: NCP MLA Prakash Solanke's Maharashtra Home Set On Fire By Maratha Quota Protesters

Maharashtra MLA Prakash Solanke's home in Beed district has been vandalised and set on fire amid fresh violence over the Maratha quota issue.

Prakash Solanke is the MLA from the Ajit Pawar-led faction of the Nationalist Congress Party.

New Delhi:

Maharashtra lawmaker Prakash Solanke's home in Beed district was vandalised and set on fire Monday morning amid renewed violence over the Maratha quota issue. The protests were triggered by alleged comments against a hunger strike by pro-quota activist Manoj Jarange Patil from October 25.

Protesters also threw stones and damaged a vehicle parked outside the home of Mr Solanke, who is a member of the Ajit Pawar-led camp of the Nationalist Congress Party that split from Sharad Pawar's outfit this year. "I was inside my home when it was attacked. Fortunately, none of my family members or staff were injured. We are safe but there is huge loss of property..." he told news agency ANI.

Visuals shared by ANI showed the large white house completely engulfed in flames, with a frighteningly massive plume of black smoke rising from the burning building.

In a widely circulated audio clip, Mr Solanke is purportedly heard saying, "The issue (the quota demand and the 40-day deadline for the state government to implement it) has become a child's game."

"The person who has not even contested a gram panchayat election (seen as a dig at Mr Patil), has become a smart person today," Mr Solanke is alleged to have said in the tape.

The NCP has condemned the arson, calling it a "complete failure of the (state) Home Minister". "This is the failure of triple engine government in Maharashtra. Today, MLA's house is set on fire... what is the Home Minister doing? It is their responsibility..." Supriya Sule, an MP from the Sharad Pawar side, said.

Mr Pawar attacked the Maharashtra government on Sunday, claiming its inaction on this issue had led to increased unrest and tension within the Maratha community. "As a party... our stand is clear. Jarange's demand should be met without hurting interests of other communities," he said.

"The need of the hour is to ensure that the quota demand is fulfilled in a proper way..."

READ | "Need Of Hour To Ensure Maratha Quota Demand Fulfilled": Sharad Pawar

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has responded to the arson incident, saying, "Manoj Patil should take note of what turn this protest is taking... It is going in the wrong direction."

Mr Shinde, meanwhile, today also said his government has formed a board to look into the matter.

"This board will give suggestions... as to what can be done regarding Maratha reservation. We will also collect empirical data (for the state) with help of Backward Classes Commission... so we can tell the Supreme Court, in the pending curative petition, (just) how backward the Maratha community is..."

READ |Panel To Advise On Approaching Supreme Court Over Maratha Quota: Eknath Shinde

The meeting today was between Mr Shinde and ministers from his government; these included leaders from both the Sena and NCP factions, which are led by the Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar, respectively.

On Tuesday representatives of Manoj Patil will meet cabinet members for more talks, Mr Shinde said.

The Chief Minister also declared, "We will give reservations in two phases - one through Kunbi caste certificate and the other on basis of economic backwardness which will stand legal scrutiny."

Meanwhile, the Maratha quota row protests have also impacted a cricket World Cup match being played in Pune, where Afghanistan are playing Sri Lanka. Looking to avoid disruptions to the match, police are turning back everyone dressed in black, fearful they may look to make a political statement.

The Maratha community is seeking reservation in government jobs and education as part of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.

With input from agencies

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