More than 2,000 farmers and farm widows on Tuesday participated in a day-long hunger-strike in Vidarbha to demand the sacking of union Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, an activist said.
In the agitation called by the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), farmers in Pandharkawada village of Yavatmal district, some 150 km south of here, also said that they would go on an indefinite hunger-strike to press for their demand.
"The Supreme Court has found Deshmukh guilty of misuse of the office of chief minster to protect his party's moneylender Dilip Sananda," VJAS president Kishor Tiwari said.
"Why is he still being allowed to hold position of a union minister? This is unacceptable," he added.
Supreme Court Justice A.K. Ganguly Monday called the United Progressive Alliance government's shifting Deshmukh from heavy industries to rural development ministry "a shameless act".
The apex court, in its Dec 14 judgment last year, had also termed Deshmukh's behaviour as incongruous and had enhanced the fine of Rs.25,000 imposed by the Bombay High Court on the Maharashtra government to Rs.10 lakh for using his influence as chief minister to prevent the police from registering a criminal case against a Congress legislator's moneylender father.
"This is a serious issue. If a senior minister has failed to protect the interests of a common man and misused his constitutional powers, he should be sacked. Instead, not only is he being retained, but also being given charge of rural development," Tiwari said.