Mumbai: Just last month Vilasrao Deshmukh was pulled up by the Supreme Court for shielding private moneylenders accused of land grab in Vidarbha. While Deshmukh has defended the portfolio change, farmers and the opposition are seeing red.
Vidarbha farmer Sarangdhar Singh Chavan is one of those farmers who are still waiting for justice after exploitation at the hands of moneylenders. In December, the Supreme Court held former Maharashtra chief minister Deshmukh responsible for protecting moneylender relatives of Congress MLA Dilip Sananda, who allegedly grabbed 14 acres of Chavan's land.
“Moneylenders will now have an upper hand. Their messiah Vilasrao Deshmukh has a higher stature now. There will be more farmer suicides in Vidarbha now,” says Sarangdhar Singh Chavan.
But Deshmukh remains defiant. He said: "People know much more what I have done for the farmers. May be this judgement has some implication that I am sure I know and so I would like to move to court again and see any relief i can get."
But the figures are stacked up against him. Deshmukh was the chief minister of Maharashtra from 2004 to 2008. In this period over 12,000 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra, making it the state with the highest rate of farmer suicides. Between 2004 and 2008 Maharashtra breached the 4000 mark thrice. As per National Crime Records Bureau, farmer suicides spiked since 2004 with 47 farmers across India killing themselves every day.
"If Supreme Court has pushed against any minister and he has been elevated as a rural development minister who has 40 per cent of the Indian budget, I think Congress doesn't want to give a clean government," said Vinod Tawade, BJP spokesperson.
Deshmukh has been rapped by the SC for protecting moneylenders, has been linked to the Adarsh scam, and has also been served a notice by the Bombay High Court in a Latur land grab case. The question the Congress party will have to answer now is: If other UPA ministers had to quit on the basis of perception, why has Deshmukh been given a promotion?