The indefinite fast by the former Labour Minister S.K. Kanta and over 470 pourakarmikas of the Gulbarga City Corporation entered the third day on Tuesday.

Mr. Kanta is leading the agitation of the pourakarmikas who are demanding the release of wages pending since the last 35 months.

When the health condition of some of the pourakarmikas, particularly aged women, started deteriorating, a team of doctors from the Government General Hospital conducted check-ups on all the protesting workers.

The agitating pourakarmikas got a shot in the arm when the State unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) extended its support for their cause. State Secretariat members of the party Maruti Manpade and Nityanandaswamy visited protest venue on Tuesday.

Mr. Manpade, who held discussions with Mr. Kanta, later told presspersons that it was unfortunate that the State Government had turned a deaf ear to the demand of the pourakarmikas. Criticising the “indifferent” attitude of the Government, particularly Labour Minister B.N. Bache Gowda and Urban Development Minister S. Suresh Kumar, for not initiating measures to release the pending wages of the pourakarmikas.

Mr. Manpade also criticised Union Labour Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge for not intervening in the matter and directing the State Government to concede the just demand of the workers.

Meeting

Meanwhile, Gulbarga Mayor Sunanda Rajaram and Deputy Mayor Sajjad Ali held a meeting with senior councillors and Gulbarga City Corporation Commissioner Manojkumar Jain on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Later, Mr. Jain told The Hindu that the Mayor and other elected representatives were likely to meet Mr. Kanta on Wednesday and appeal to him and the pourakarmikas to call of their agitation and accept the proposal of the State Government to register themselves in a self-help group and get their wages fixed.

Mr. Jain said that pourakarmikas were eligible to get a payment of Rs. 5,000 a month if they get themselves registered in an SHG and work for the city corporation. “The issue of pending wages will also be considered once they accept the Government's proposal,” he said.

Sources close to Mr. Kanta, however, expressed their dissatisfaction over the proposal. They said that Mr. Kanta should have been invited to the meeting called by the Mayor to hear the views of the striking pourakarmikas.

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