Updated: August 30, 2021 10:10:48 pm
Ahead of the Huzurabad assembly constituency bypoll, representatives of gulf migrants and returnees in Telangana are mulling the formation of a new political party and fielding a candidate of their own to press for their demands.
“For decades, we have been ignored. Our problems have been neglected by all political parties since we are not a consolidated vote bank. So, we are preparing to show our strength. We will field a candidate for the Huzurabad bypoll,” Guggilla Ravi Goud, convenor of the Telangana Gulf Workers Joint Action Committee, an umbrella organization of 24 unions, told the Indianexpress.com.
Among their demands is the call for a Gulf Bandhu scheme in line with the state government’s flagship Dalit Bandhu scheme which offers assistance to the tune of Rs 10 lakh, without any collateral, to eligible Dalit families.
Goud said that there are 25 lakh Gulf migrants who have returned to Telangana in the last two decades, apart from 15 lakh who are currently working in different Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
“Now consider these 40 lakh people, their family members and relatives. We have a support base of 1.4 crore voters across the state. Even if we don’t win, we can influence the victory or loss of candidates in nearly 30 assembly constituencies and five parliamentary constituencies,” he added.
Over 2.7 crore people were eligible to cast their votes in the previous Assembly polls in 2018.
Eatala Rajender, who was the finance minister in the first TRS government and health minister in the second, was dropped from the cabinet in May over allegations of land grabbing by companies owned by his family. Even as an inquiry was initiated against the allegations, he left the party and quit the MLA post to join BJP.
The bypoll is likely to be held in September.
A victory for the ruling TRS is being seen as a matter of prestige, considering the recent developments between chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his longtime associate Eatala Rajender.
Swadesh Parkipandla, president of Pravasi Mitra Labour Union, said the representatives of Gulf workers JAC have been meeting families of migrants in Huzurabad in the last few weeks. “In five mandals of Huzurabad constituency alone, we have identified 5000 families of migrants. There are another 10,000 families of past returnees. Our candidate will be a Gulf returnee,” he said.
The Gulf Workers’ JAC will hold a public meeting on September 2 in Jammikunta of Huzurabad and present its agenda before its members.
Parkipandla said discussions are on with representatives of 12 major trade unions affiliated to political parties at the national level for their support. “When the government is spending Rs 2,000 crore for Dalit Bandhu scheme in Huzurabad alone, what is stopping it from sparing Rs 500 crore per year for a migrants’ welfare fund?” he asked.
For nearly five decades, the northern belt of Telangana, which includes the erstwhile states of Adilabad, Nizamabad, and Karimnagar, has witnessed the highest migration of labourers to the Gulf, apart from Hyderabad.
According to the JAC, nearly 1400 migrants have lost their lives in these countries in the last seven years alone. “No aggrieved family has received an ex gratia from the government,” said Mandha Bheem Reddy, president of Emigrants Welfare Forum.
Reddy recalled how a determined group of farmers in Nizamabad succeeded in halting the re-election of incumbent MP and chief minister’s daughter K Kavitha during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Holding the Centre and the state responsible for failing to ensure higher remunerative prices for turmeric and red jowar and for failing to establish a Turmeric Board in Nizamabad, over 200 farmers had filed nomination papers, and about 178 of them contested.
Floating a political party was discussed during all the recent meetings. “Our model will focus on ‘zero-budget politics’. Our weapon will be smartphones. We have seen how AAP came to power in Delhi without the backing of a corporate political structure. Electioneering is a matter of two weeks and all our volunteers will stick together to the fight,” Reddy said.
When asked how the electorate can be influenced with their single agenda of working for the welfare of Gulf migrants and returnees, he said, “The families of migrants and past returnees belong to a cross-section of society. Their lives are impacted negatively due to government neglect. A win or loss is not an issue. We want to first make a difference in the political system,” he said.
A final decision on party formation is expected in the coming days.
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