Tens of thousands of people waving saffron flags are marching through Mumbai demanding quotas in government jobs and education for the Maratha community in western India. The marchers covered a distance of more than five kilometres silently with no speeches or slogans raised yesterday. The community accounts for nearly 35 percent of western Maharashtra state’s 123 million people. Virendra Pawar, a spokesman for the Maratha Kranti Morcha, or Maratha Revolutionary Front, says the protesters are also demanding higher prices for farm produce and loan waivers for poor farmers. The Front was launched last year by a group of Maratha organizations to protest the alleged rape and killing of a teenage Maratha girl in Ahmednagar district of the state. It later took on other causes.
New Zealand: Politician resigns after revealing past fraud
The co-leader of New Zealand’s Green Party resigned yesterday, three weeks after confessing she committed welfare fraud as a struggling young mother more than 20 years ago. Metiria Turei said the scrutiny on her family following her disclosure had become unbearable and she worried she was hindering her party’s chances six weeks ahead of an election. Turei made the confession as part of an attempt to energize debate about the difficulties of living on welfare, at the same time pledging to raise benefits by 20 percent. Polls indicate support for the Green Party has plummeted since Turei’s confession and the appointment last week of Jacinda Ardern as opposition leader. The liberal Green Party is the nation’s third-largest party, with 12 seats in the 119-seat Parliament. It will now run its campaign with a single leader, James Shaw.
Australia: Voters await mail ballot on gay marriage
Australians are set to vote on gay marriage through a non-binding ballot by mail next month after the Senate yesterday thwarted the government’s preferred option for gauging public opinion before legislating the issue. But the so-called postal plebiscite has never been tried in Australia and faces court challenges by gay-rights advocates who want Parliament to legislate marriage equality now without an opinion poll. An independent lawmaker and two rights advocates said they would lodge an application in the High Court yesterday for an injunction to prevent the vote going ahead. The conservative government’s preferred option was a compulsory plebiscite which would be conducted like a general election with ballot boxes around Australia on Nov. 25. The cost would have been 170 million Australian dollars (USD135 million).