In the context of the strike by 48000-odd Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) employees, a video that is being shared over Whatsapp groups and Twitter dates back to 2011. That year, RTC employees too had taken part in the Sakala Janula Samme (All People’s strike) for the cause of Telangana for 27 days, bringing the region to a standstill.
The reason the video is being shared is to highlight that the leader of the Telangana agitation K Chandrasekhar Rao is very different from the Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao of today.
In that speech, KCR – his usual fire and brimstone – warns the then united Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy that arresting RTC employees would result in the government burning its own fingers. Harping on the Telangana sentiment, KCR told Reddy that arrests and lathis would not scare them.
Cut to 2019 when the same KCR accuses the same RTC employees of blackmail. Unlike the pre-2014 days, when KCR was more than happy with RTC employees disrupting the Andhra Pradesh government, now the CM sneers at their attempt to hold his regime to ransom. At that time, he warned Kiran Kumar Reddy against arresting the employees, now the same KCR has dismissed 48000 RTC employees in one stroke. Earlier KCR supported RTC employees going on strike, now he wants an undertaking from new recruits that they will never go on strike.
KCR as CM feels he has done enough for the employees. He is obviously referring to the 44 per cent salary fitment he granted after the RTC strike of 2015.
“The state government has been taking good care of RTC employees but they are not grateful. Is a strike warranted?” he asked.
Opposition leaders allege that is because any union of employees that challenges the chief minister is not appreciated. They point out that the strike call was given early September yet the government did not make any attempt to reach out for a dialogue till the last minute.
“This is a unilateral and brazen decision to dismiss employees who have gone on a legal strike. It shows that KCR takes the strike as a personal insult. He has taken just 24 hours to decide that he does not want so many employees on the RTC rolls,” says Krishnasagar Rao, BJP spokesperson.
Incidentally, one of the demands of the TSRTC employees is that employees who took part in the 2011 Sakala Janula Samme and have since retired, should be paid the salary for that period.