Hyderabad, TELANGANA — A 20-day-long strike called by employees of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) notwithstanding, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) maintained a clear lead of 23,494 votes (as of 12.40pm) in Huzurnagar as counting progressed in the legislative assembly constituency. Bypoll was held here on 21 October.
On Thursday, leaving Indian National Congress’s N Padmavathi Reddy behind at 37,951 votes, TRS’s Saidi Reddy Shanampudi crossed 61,000 votes. Padmavathi Reddy is the wife of N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, the Congress’s MP who resigned from the Huzurnagar Assembly seat when he won the Lok Sabha seat in Nalgonda constituency in 2019 general elections.
TRS’s whopping lead has dealt a blow to 50,000 workers who have been on warpath with the ruling government under Chief Minister and TRS supremo, K Chandrashekar Rao. The workers had gone on strike on October 5, demanding the state to merge the impoverished Road Transport Corporation with the government. The workers have been demanding job security and welfare measures for retired employees apart from demanding the government to invest one per cent of its annual budget in the corporation.
The strike had gained traction over the past two weeks with TRS’s main opposition in the state—the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party—extending support to the striking workers. The RTC strike venues had also become a confluence point for anti-incumbency sentiment with regional opposition parties including Telugu Desam Party and Telangana Jana Samithi also supporting the workers. The High Court of Telangana too had asked the state to settle the dispute with workers to reduce the impact of the strike on public transportation in the state. This month two RTC workers had ended their lives even as two of their counterparts reportedly died of cardiac arrest.
However, Huzurnagar election result indicates that TRS which had come to power for two consecutive terms in Telangana still has the people’s mandate. In the forenoon, BJP secured just 1,206 votes whereas the TDP bagged a nominal 997 votes. To the opposition’s dismay, an independent candidate, Sapavath Suman secured 1,648 votes, higher than tallies of BJP’s Kota Rama Rao and TDP’s Chava Kiranmaye.
In early elections called in 2018, TRS had come to power in the state winning an overwhelming majority of 88 out 119 Legislative Assembly seats.
TRS leaders ecstatic over results
As the election results came in, TRS leaders did not shy away from expressing their disapproval of the workers strike which was expected to impact the party’s performance in the bypoll.
“It is not enough to hold meetings and give speeches against the government. People’s trust has to be won. By rolling out several welfare schemes which have benefited various segments of the population, TRS has gained people’s trust. Despite campaigns aimed at maligning the image of the government, people have given us the mandate,” Thalasani Srinivas Yadav, TRS strongman and minister for Animal Husbandry, fisheries and cinematography told media persons.
TSRTC union leaders had targeted Yadav and campaigned against “his blind support for the state government’s policies”.
B Rammohan, Mayor of Hyderabad of TRS leader told reporters in Hyderabad, “The opposition has been hurling abuses at the government, accusing TRS of misusing power. The people have given clear mandate to TRS in Huzurnagar. This is a declaration from the people that they are with us”.
The RTC unions had criticised most TRS MLAs and the CM, accusing them of betraying people of Telangana after its state formation.
“After attaining power, TRS forgot the workers unions which had led the Telangana agitation,” Ashwathama Reddy, convener of TSRTC Joint Action Committee had alleged the previous week.
When asked, the striking unions said that they will continue their agitation as planned. While the government has constituted a committee to look into the demands, the High Court is expected to hear the RTC dispute on October 28.