The trade union election at Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) has become a battleground for mainstream political parties. Key leaders of the Telangana movement are pitted against each other in a tussle for the coal belt that straddles 20 Assembly constituencies.
Trade unions such as AITUC, INTUC, TNTUC, CITU, HMS, Praja Telangana Karmika Sangham and BMS have formed an alliance backed by the Congress and TDP apart from the CPI to take on the TRS-backed Telangana Boggu Ghani Karmika Sangham (TBGKS) in the election on October 5.
AICC in-charge of Telangana R C Khuntia, TPCC president N Uttam Kumar Reddy, INTUC national president Sanjeev Reddy and CPI state secretary C Venkat Reddy are leading the campaign for the alliance. Backing the alliance are balladeer Gaddar and Prof B Kodandaram, convenor of Telangana Joint Action Committee.
Leading the TRS campaign is K Kavita, MP from Nizamabad and daughter of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao. She was appointed honorary president of TBGKS in June 2014.
The Singareni trade union elections are held every four years, but this time the election has been delayed. In 2012, TBGKS won for the first time as sentiment for Telangana swept through the workforce.
The coal mines are spread across six districts — Jayashankar Bhupalapally, Khammam, Bhadradri Kothagudem, Peddapalli, Mancheria and Komaram Bheem. Winning in the coal belt will be significant for the TRS as the six districts are spread over 20 Assembly constituencies.
Kavita has promised to re-implement the dependent employment scheme for workers, which the TRS had promised in its 2014 manifesto. The scheme enables a worker to take VRS while a male dependent gets a job. The scheme was scrapped in 1998 by the state government.
The alliance is also promising to bring back this scheme, as well as others like reduced working hours, better health facilities including a super-speciality hospital for workers with lung and heart disease, and demanding closure of open cast mines.
AITUC general secretary V Seeharamaiah claimed TRS leaders were making empty promises. “The dependent job scheme is tangled in court. It cannot be implemented for those who take VRS,’’ he said.
The TRS, meanwhile, is leaving no stone unturned to secure a victory in Singareni. At least 25 MLAs, six ministers, four MPs and dozens of senior party leaders are campaigning in the coal belt. TPCC president N Uttam Kumar Reddy alleged that TRS was buying leaders of groups affiliated to AITUC and INTUC. TPCC general secretary Dasoju Sravan claimed that TRS leaders were distributing money, meat and liquor to workers.