Congress, CPI and other opposition parties on Friday flayed the Telangana Chief Minister's comments that the ongoing strike by TSRTC employees
was illegal and reaffirmed their support to the stir.
"This is a strike being done voluntarily by the employees. Their request is that the CM fulfil the promise he made at the Karimnagar meeting (during separate Telangana agitation) that RTC workers would be recognised as government employees," employees unions leader Aswathama Reddy told reporters.
Claiming that an RTC employee came under pressure and died of a heart attack over Rao's comments, he said such deaths are 'government murders'.
Congress Legislature Party leader M Bhatti Vikramarka alleged that there is a conspiracy to make RTC unavailable to people.
Aswathama Reddy and other leaders met state BJP president K Laxman and Minister of state for Home G Kishan Reddy.
Taking exception to Rao's comments that a new law made by the Centre allows states to permit private players to run buses, Kishan Reddy said the Centre never made any law to suspend or remove workers from jobs.
CPI said its state Assistant Secretary K Sambasiva Rao would launch an indefinite fast from Saturday in support of the strike by Telangana State Road Transport Corporation employees and other demands, including safeguarding RTC.
He told reporters here that he would go ahead with the fast even if government denied permission for it and he was arrested or admitted to a hospital by the authorities.
Chief Minister Rao on Thursday ruled out the merger of the Road Transport Corporation with the government as demanded and indicated that more buses would be taken on hire.
He had hit out at leaders of RTC employees unions, alleging that they have thrown the Corporation into dire straits with their "irresponsible attitude" by placing more demands, though given a 67 per cent hike in salaries.
Rao had also said the strike was illegal and that Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) has already been in force.
With RTC already incurring heavy losses (Rs 1200 crore per annum), the demands cannot be fulfilled and the RTC cannot continue the way it existed prior to strike, he had said.
The stir entered the 21st day on Friday, with demonstrations, sit-ins and other forms of protest at various places, even as RTC said efforts were being made to improve services by making alternative arrangements and that 6,519 buses were operated till 5 PM.
The striking employees, workers of opposition parties and others have been organising protests in support of their demands and against the government in the state since then.
Ruling out discussions with the agitating unions, the TRS government had said the employees stir is illegal as they caused immense inconvenience to public.
The Telangana High Court had recently directed the RTC and employees to hold discussions and settle all their disputes before October 28.
Following the directive, the government decided to examine the demands other than the merger of the Corporation with the government.
The other demands were being studied by a committee of RTC officials at present.
Meanwhile, police booked a case against Ashwathama Reddy for allegedly obstructing some of the staff from joining duty.
The police, based on a complaint by K Raju, a driver working in the RTC, slapped case under sections 506 (criminal intimidation), 341 ( wrongful restraint) of IPC among others.
The complaint alleged thatsome workers have committed suicides and Ashwathama Reddy is the reason for them, a police official said.
Due to the indefinite strike, many workers are forced to commit suicide and Ashwathama Reddy is the reason for all these deaths. Ashwathama Reddy is not allowing the workers to attend their duties and causing problems to them and threatening them to continue the strike, the complaint alleged.
Reacting to the case, Reddy said these complaints would not deter the agitating employees from achieving their objectives through the stir.
Different employees and workers unions of TSRTC began the indefinite strike from October 5 across Telangana on a call by the JAC of TSRTC, demanding merger of RTC with the government and recruitment to various posts, among others.