The striking Telangana staff ended their 42 day strike yesterday - one that reportedly cost the state 10,000 crores as reported in some sections of the press, one month in children's education and more in terms of their preparation and trauma of missed opportunities, uncertainty in the people's minds, no work in any government department including revenue, RTA and so on, huge losses for the RTC, railways, certainly for the Singareni Collieries, losses for industry and business establishments and a huge dent in the image of Hyderabad as an investment option. The common man was put to untold misery as autos and private transport fleeced them in the absence of buses, hospitals and otehr services worked half heartedly, strikes and bandhs every other day, cancelled trains and buses, blocked highways, shut petrol bunks. People hoarded food and fuel. It was medieval.
But the malls were open and so were liquor shops. What the movement leaders were particular was that educational institutions, industries, transport were shut down. Common people died. Common people suffered from loss of pay, from potential action. The Ministers and other elected representatives were fine.
The strike was called off after the government agreed to certain demands such as treating the period of striking staff as 'on duty' and appropriate leave sanctioned (including halfpay leave). It would give a special advance to compensate he salary lost due to the strike. For these and a few more demands the T staff called off their strike. Meagre gains in return for such sacrifices. Why did they give up their strike instead of intensifying it?
The allegations by the TDP on KCR brought in more uncertainty to the issue. Much of the Telangana movement was initially about water and how the region was being cheated out of it but this new twist showed a different side. I was surprised at the way the T leadership kept postponing and cancelling its rail roko agitation. I was surprised at how they let the cricket match between England and India continue. I was surprised that none of the leaders made any serious sacrifice and instead merely urged and forced common people against each other, and even to suicide. If anything the T leadership should have pushed forth, should have stopped the match, should have increased its sacrifices until it achieved its goal. The subsequent developments and their timing seem suspicious.
All that they have done is set the Telangana region back. The buses, collieries, educational institutions, businesses, industries will take much time to recover. Some may never recover. The poor man will pay again for this in more taxes. Who has benefited by this strike? It is a loss everywhere and ironically to the region most of all. The movement spearheaded by weak and minor leaders, seems to have lost its steam. More importantly, it may have lost its credibility too.