The ongoing strike has also once again brought the entire opposition together against the ruling TRS
Situation is ideal for the main opposition Congress to take the lead, especially at a time when it seems like BJP is taking the narrative away from it
As the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) strike enters its ninth day on Sunday, the stalemate between Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) and the TSRTC unions continued, with both sides unwilling to budge. In spite of the situation being ripe for the opposition to target KCR and the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the chief minister still enjoys having no challenger among the opposition.
In fact, the situation is ideal for the main opposition Congress to take the lead, especially at a time when it seems like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is taking the narrative away from it. The ongoing strike has also once again brought the entire opposition together against the ruling TRS. A senior Congress leader, who did not want to be quoted, said that his party is also looking to do the same in the current scenario.
While the TRS has been essentially confident of its popularity after winning 88 seats (out of 119) in the state assembly polls last year (it now has 103 MLAs in the assembly due to defections), the party took a beating in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, when it managed to win just nine parliamentary seats, while the Congress won three and the BJP won 4 (which is why it is staking claim as the main opposition).
“This is not just about the TSRTC strike, but about how KCR has been behaving. There is a lot of discontent also in the TRS, which has been simmering against KCR in his party. Other employee unions have also been approached (to support the ongoing strike)," said senior Congress leader and former MLA Marri Shashidhar Reddy.
The TSRTC unions, led by a joint action committee (JAC), began its indefinite strike demanding a salary hike for its employees and merger of the TSRTC with the state government, among other things. KCR, while refusing to refusing to hold talks against the union leaders, has also categorically said that all the 48,000 plus employees who are not working will considered to be “self-dismissed", in a statement from his office that was released last week.
In response to the state government not willing to hold talks and discuss matters, the JAC has also announced that it will conduct a state wide bandh on 19 October, and other events like a ‘Rasta Roko’ (road block) in the days leading up it. In February 2017, the Telangana Joint Action Committee (an umbrella body of various organisations that led the separate statehood movement) had given a bandh call over the TRS’s alleged failure to provide jobs. It was however met with a clampdown by the state police.
“There is actually no opposition leader today in the state who can take on the TRS. Moreover, it is ironic that the BJP is also supporting the TSRTC unions, because the BJP-led Centre is actually also being met with protests by the various other government employees for privatizing the railways and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.