Hyderabad: The bandh call given by unions of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) on Saturday evoked a mild response, as most of the shops and establishments in Hyderabad and its surrounding were unaffected. However, public transport continued to be severely affected as few buses could be seen operating, due to the ongoing strike by TSRTC employees, which entered its fifteenth day.

TSRTC union leaders (who have formed a joint action committee or JAC) and other opposition leaders who were protesting on Saturday in different parts of Hyderabad were also taken into custody by the police. The bandh call, though not successful, was held a day after the Telangana High Court asked both the TSRTC unions and the state government to hold talks. So far, no talks have been held.

Raji Reddy, president of the TSRTC Employees Union, which is part of the JAC formed, said that the city police had picked up various union leaders from their homes and taken them into custody (to pre-empt the bandh call). “They have still not called us for talks. I had not stayed at home on Friday night, and the police arrested union leaders from their homes early on Saturday morning itself," he added.

Apart from establishments, taxis and cabs were also functioning as usually for most parts in Hyderabad, negating the indefinite strike call given by the Telangana State Taxi and Drivers Joint Action Committee (TSTDJAC). Apart from public transport affecting daily commute, the Telangana government had earlier also extended the Dushera holidays (for schools and colleges) till 19 October, owing to the indefinite bus strike.

It is to be seen whether the government extends the holidays even further. Moreover, the strike, which is being supported by opposition parties, might also have an impact on the Huzurnagar (Suryapet) bye-election, which will be held on 21 October. The main fight is between the Congress and the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

The Communist Party of India (CPI), which has a small votebank in the assembly segment, had earlier decided to support the TRS but later withdrew it due to the ongoing issue with the TSRTC. Among other demands, the TSRTC unions are asking for a salary hike for all employees and also a merger of the organization with the state government. Telangana chief minister and (TRS supremo) K. Chandrashekhar Rao has however not responded so far.

On Saturday, employees of the Telangana government belonging to various unions will also conduct lunch-hour demonstrations in support of the TSRTC unions.

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