Parties Vie For 9.5 L Votes Of Telangana Govt Staff

Hyderabad: Major political parties are eyeing the vote bank of nearly 9.5 lakh state government employees, pensioners, contract and outsourcing employees.

The BRS is seeking their support on the ground that it had enhanced salaries and pensions for staff by 73 per cent in nine years while the Opposition parties are trying to cash in on the anger and disappointment of state staff against the BRS government for failing to pay salaries on the first of every month, not clearing the pending three DA arrears, for not scrapping CPS (contributory pension scheme) and restoring OPS (old pension scheme) besides the delay in setting up new pay revision committee (PRC).

During the statehood agitation, the BRS (then TRS) and employees unions had worked hand in hand. The employees unions supported the BRS and took part in all the agitations.

After the formation of Telangana state and the BRS coming to power in June 2014, Chief Minister K.Chandrashekar Rao declared that it was an 'employee-friendly government', announced Telangana special increment, announced highest-ever 43 per cent fitment (hike in basic pay) in 2015 and again 30 per cent fitment in 2021.

Despite this, the wedge between the BRS government and employees has widened due to delay in the payment of salaries and pensions every month, delay in promotions and transfers, lack of effective health scheme for employees and their family members.

Moreover, 2.2 lakh employees who are covered under CPS have been agitating for the past five years, demanding the restoration of OPS. About 1.5 lakh government teachers are angry for not getting promotions and transfers for the last nine years.

The new PRC pay scales have to come into force from July this year but the government failed to constitute a new commission to recommend pay scales afresh, which led to severe resentment among employees.

Feeling the heat ahead of Assembly polls, the CM announced the constitution of a new PRC just a week ahead of the Election Commission issuing the poll notification. He announced IR (interim relief) of 5 per cent, which triggered protests from employees unions, in lieu of delay in implementing new PRC scales.

With the election code coming into force, the BRS government could not increase IR as demanded by employees unions. In its manifesto released last week, the BRS promised to set up a committee with senior officials to study on reverting to the OPS, which did not go down well with the unions who asked what the BRS government was doing all these years.

At this juncture, the opposition Congress and BJP sprung into action to cash in on the dissent of employees against BRS. The Congress and BRS are reaching out to employees unions and seeking their support promising to include their issues in their election manifestos to be released soon.

The Congress seems to be gaining an upper hand as the party-ruled states Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh already restored OPS and the Karnataka government promised to do so very soon. The Congress is promising to restore OPS if it was voted to power.

The Congress and BJP are also promising to pay salaries on the first of every month unlike at present when employees are receiving salaries till the 20th of every month in phases.

Besides there is a huge pendency in settlement of retirement benefits, huge arrears of medical reimbursement bills in the last two years. The Congress and BJP are promising to resolve these issues on a war footing if they are voted to power.

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