The stage was set for a do-or-die battle for separate Telangana state, as government employees and teachers of the region along with all the other sections of the society will go on an indefinite strike from Tuesday.
Sakala Jana Samme (mass strike) has been called by the Telangana Joint Action Committee and supported by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the Bharatiya Janata Party and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation New Democracy to mount pressure on the central government to start the process for the formation of Telangana. More than one lakh workers of the Singareni Collieries will also be part of the strike bringing coal production to a halt across the four districts of Telangana.
Though the main opposition — the Congress and Telugu Desam Party have been indifferent towards the strike call, the agitation got a shot in the arm with the two Congress members of Parliament Rajaiah and Balram Naik announcing their support to it.
But the state government has adopted a tough stand on the strike and is planning to invoke the Essential Service Maintenance Act. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy discussed the situation with senior officials and has decided to apply "no work no pay" rule against the employees going on strike.
"Come what may, we will go on strike from Tuesday. That is the decision of the Joint Action Committee of the employees and the teachers," said its leader Swami Goud. He dismissed the threats of the state government to ESMA against the striking employees and said that the employees and teachers were ready to go to jail.
"We are going on strike because the government has failed to keep its electoral promise," Goud said.
In the run up to the biggest mass strike, the TRS is organising a massive rally ‘Jana Grajana’ in Karimnagar on Monday evening, which is expected to be attended by more than 10 lakh people. The rally will also be addressed by the Telangana Joint Action Committee convenor Professor Kodanda Ram, and the leaders of the BJP, CPIML New Democracy and representatives of many other JACs and organisations.
"The mass strike is the last battle for Telangana state. It will bring the normal life to a halt. As every section of the people will participate in it, nothing will move till the demand of the people was accepted," said Ram, who has undertaken a visit of the region to mobilise support for the strike.
Hailing the decision of the Singareni workers to join the indefinite strike, Ram said that with this kind of unprecedented unity among all the sections of the people no force on earth can prevent the formation of Telangana state.
He said that all the employees, teachers and workers who were participating in strike should not sit at home but take part in the hunger strikes to make the agitation more intense. He reiterated his call to all the elected representatives of Telangana region to quit the assembly, council and Parliament and joint the agitation.
"We are ready to be arrested if government takes such action. We will see how many people will be arrested and how long they will keep us in prisons," Ram said.
On the other hand, some ministers have criticised the employees unions for going on strike. P Shailajanath, who was campaigning against Telangana, said that the employees had no right to resort to strike on a political issue and if they cause inconvenience to the people, the government will take action against them.
Two ministers from Hyderabad D Nagendar and Mukesh Goud also slammed the strike plan saying employees were crossing their brief. Three prominent Congress leaders from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions attacked the Telangana movement. Minister T G Venkatesh and Lok Sabha members K Sambasiva Rao and R Sambasiva Rao said that formation of Telangna was impossible and the indefinite strike was going to be a failure.(Rediff.com)