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HomePoliticsHow KCR blunted 52-day Telangana transport strike backed by BJP

How KCR blunted 52-day Telangana transport strike backed by BJP

With KCR unrelenting, Telangana transport corporation unions Monday called off their strike, which the BJP had supported.

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Hyderabad: For 52 days, employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) shunned work and took to the streets, challenging the authority of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) and providing ammunition to opposition parties such as the BJP to declare that it would bring down the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) government. 

On Monday, the protest fell flat — the unions leading the agitation called off the strike, which paralysed the transport system in the state, stating the decision as “neither their defeat nor the government’s victory”. 

The nearly 48,000 TSRTC employees had shunned work, demanding better wages, working conditions, and a merger of the debt-ridden public sector undertaking (PSU) with the government. Their main grouse, however, was the KCR government’s apparent move to  privatise the PSU. 

But in dealing with the protesters, the chief minister found an unlikely ally — the Modi government.  

Analysts cited the political involvement in the strike, especially that of BJP, as the reason for KCR’s unyielding position on the workers’ demands and his constant reference to their agitation as one egged on by vested interests.

It also allowed the chief minister to stay ahead of the protesters and the BJP by continually referring to the Modi government’s privatisation plans. Time and again during the agitation, KCR invoked the BJP’s  “duplicitous” stand, saying while the Modi government was promoting privatisation of PSUs, even road transport corporations (RTCs), the state BJP was opposing such a move.    

With KCR unrelenting, the unions finally called off the agitation. Their move comes on the back of the Hyderabad High Court’s referring the issue to the labour court. The HC, which was hearing various aspects of the strike, also approved the government’s decision to privatise 5,100 routes, half of the TSRTC’s total routes.

RTC unions’ resorting to strikes is not new – in Telangana or in the forerunner united AP. At the core of the agitation now is an apparent move to privatise the PSU. 

Also read: Why old foes KCR and Jagan Mohan Reddy are now working together instead of warring 

How KCR turned the tables on BJP  

Though the Congress, Left parties too rallied behind the workers, it was the BJP, buoyant after winning four Lok Sabha seats in the state, that took a proactive part in the strike. 

There was massive bike rally by BJP workers in Hyderabad, in solidarity with the TSRTC, following which party workers attempted to lay siege to Pragathi Bhavan, the chief minister’s office-cum-residence. 

And BJP leaders were fiery in their speeches. “The KCR government’s adamant stand on the strike would lead to a public revolt,” K. Laxman, the Telangana BJP chief, had stated. “Such dictatorial attitude in curbing dissent would not end the strike but lead to the downfall of this TRS government soon.”

All of this was seen as an attempt by the BJP to make inroads in the state where the Congress’s popularity is waning (the Congress even lost its stronghold Huzurnagar seat to TRS in last month by-polls held in the context of the RTC strike).

But it angered the chief minister. 

So, in his counter to the strike and political criticism, KCR has on few occasions singled out the BJP for its “double standards”, taking aid of a provision brought by the Narendra Modi government as the basis for his RTC privatisation plans.  

“While the Narendra Modi government has passed an (amendment) act giving full powers to the states to privatise the road transport corporation and bus routes, the BJP leaders here are talking against it,” KCR said terming the arguments put forth by the BJP and other parties to privatisation as surprising.

The chief minister was referring to the amendment to Clause 3 of Motor Vehicle Act 1950, brought in by the central government in the budget session this year.

“The fresh act states that the state government(s) should take measures to encourage healthy competition. The Centre had also pointed out that for offering better services to the people at lower ticket prices, competition is necessary,” the CM added. “The centre announced that by allowing the private sector in air travel and mobile phone sectors, facilities improved and rates came down drastically. If the facts are such, BJP leaders in Telangana are making some funny allegations and charges in the RTC case.”

KCR even chose to mention former PM Jawaharlal Nehru in his remarks against the BJP.

“In 1950, when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the PM, Motor Vehicle’s Act was brought in. Based on this, RTCs were formed in the states and it was stipulated that no private buses should be given permit in the routes where RTC was operating,” the CM said in a press statement mid-way through the strike.  “(But) bringing the amendment, Modi government … decided to give an opportunity to the private sector in the RTC.”

Also read: BJP storms govt offices with Tricolour to push demand for ‘Hyderabad Liberation Day’

‘Centre promoting privatisation’

Throughout the agitation, the chief minister kept referring to the Modi government’s privatisation drive. 

“BJP leaders talk a lot here. (But) the BJP at the Centre is privatising the Indian Railways. Airlines are privatised. Even Secunderabad Railway Station is privatised,” the CM said in another statement last month. “The Centre in its budget stated that it is raising funds by disinvestment in several PSUs. This is how the BJP leadership is taking decisions at the Centre and their party-men are talking exactly opposite here.” 

Prof K. Nageshwar, a political analyst, described the BJP, Congress participation in the strike as “self-seeking”.

“The parties used it more in their interest than for the RTC workers; trying to shoot at KCR from the workers’ shoulders. While the BJP leaders said the Centre would intervene to help the workers, nothing such happened,” Nageshwar said. “In fact, it is the BJP’s overreaction that seems to have angered KCR and made him rigid as BJP would have grabbed credit for any sympathetic decision taken by him.” 

Also read: Why Chennamaneni Ramesh, a 4-time Telangana MLA, has been stripped of Indian citizenship


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  1. Poor people zindabad. Poor RTC workers zindabad. All political parties Murdabad. All politicians Murdabad. Chandi maa won’t spare anybody including KCR and his family.

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