MANCHERIAL: The leftist workforce in the Singareni SCCL and coal belt areas are gradually shifting their allegiance to the pro-BJP Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) in the erstwhile Adilabad district.
The ideological shift among the workers is slow but it may gain pace. Some senior left leaders active in trade unions as also the CPI and the CPM and those elected as MLAs had died in recent years. A new leadership has not emerged and hence young activists here are not joining the left parties, unlike in the past.
The changes that took place in socio economic and political conditions in the last 15 years are influencing the minds of the youths and workers in altogether different ways. The growth of the BMS in the coal belt areas was nominal till recently. It gathered pace due to the weakening of leftist trade unionism in the SCCL and the increased role of money in the coal belt elections.
A significant step-up in BJP activities and the favourable results for the saffron party in the Dubbaka and GHMC polls too are having a positive impact here on trade union politics of the party that rules the Centre.
This ideological shift is quite visible among the Singareni workers in Mandamarri, Srirampur, Bellampalli and Ramagundam areas in the Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL).
Over a period of time, people and workers in the coal belt area have developed a feeling that political parties decided on the trade union activities and workers’ fate and not the trade unions themselves.
Saffron flags are flying at the coal mines and BMS is getting strengthened in the coal belt area especially in Srirampur area as days pass. Large numbers of Singareni workers are often seen attending BJP meetings. The other day, workers gave a rousing welcome to BJP state president Bandi Sanjay and party in-charge Tarun Chug in Srirampur. This was unthinkable even a year ago.
Local political leaders say the youths who recently got dependent jobs in Singareni are showing a special interest in being a part of the BJP. Once upon a time, the majority of Singareni workers were part of the leftist unions like the IFTU, AITUC and CITU as also the Singareni Karmika Samakya popularly known as ‘Sikasa’ affiliated to the Naxalites. There is also an INTUC-affiliated union in the SCCL.
During the Telangana statehood agitation, many leftists joined the Telangana Boggugani Karmika Sangam (TBGKS) affiliated to the TRS. The TBGKS was elected as a recognized trade union in Singareni twice.
Kengarla Mallaiah who has a left background was the founder president of the TBGKS. He resigned the post and joined the BMS a year ago following the infighting between two groups in TBGKS. Many activists like Lyagala Srinivas and Rammurthy also joined the BMS.
But Kengarla Mallaiah and his followers recently resigned from the BMS and decided to again join TBGKS on an invitation offered by the party working president K.T Ramarao. In the meantime, Venkat Rao was made president of the TBGKS supported by Kalavakuntla Kavitha. Kengarla Mallaiah is now silent.
It is said that the recent director-recruited youths and those who were recruited under dependent jobs category are educated and are averse to the leftist ideology.
According to rough estimates, nearly 10,000 new recruitments took place in the SCCL in recent years, the present total strength of this entity being 41,000. News is that some officials having right-wing ideology are holding top positions at various centres of the Singareni and motivating the employees to join the BMS and work for the BJP.
Earlier, workers having right-wing workers in the coal belt areas used to hide their ideological stands. Now, they are openly coming out in support of the BMS and the BJP. This follows a surge in the BJP activities.
BMS would have been drawing more workers to its side if there were no issues like the central government move for privatizing the coal blocks and even PSUs like the SCCL. The issue of privatization of coal blocks slowed down the BMS expansion plans.
Now, workers are carefully observing the movements of Kengarla Mallaiah. News is also making rounds that the Left, the TRS and the Congress party-affiliated trade unions may form a united front in SCCL to slow down the BMS and counter the BJP.
However, AITUC affiliated to CPI is strong in the SCCL and it may gain an advantage with the in-fight that is going on in the TBGKS affiliated to TRS.