The Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy’s efforts to resolve the teachers’ strike through the mediation of the finance minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, proved futile on Monday. Talks between the minister and the leaders of Joint Action Committee of Teachers Organisations (Jacto) failed to achieve a breakthrough. Teachers have been on the path of agitation for the last 60 days raising various demands.
After the talks, teachers announced that the strike will be intensified. Mr Rosaiah had invited Jacto leaders for talks in his chambers at the Secretariat on the directions of the Chief Minister. The teachers stuck to their demands on apprenticeship. The minister categorically stated that the demand could not be accepted at this juncture as it had financial implications and could be considered only in the next Budget. “I will discuss the issue with the chief minister,” he added. Jacto leaders expressed disappointment at the minister calling them “merely to know their demands.”
“The government is already aware of our demands,” said Mr Venugopal, president of the AP Teachers Federation. The apprenticeship row dates back to a government order issued by the school education department in 1994. The GO has now become a bone of contention between the agitators and the government. This GO was issued to tide over the financial crisis at that time and teachers are now demanding its abolition. But it will cost the government Rs 148 crore now to pay arrears for over 1.7 lakh teachers for the apprenticeship period.
Officials who re-examined the GO in the context of the strike said it was full of contradictions and would not stand judicial scrutiny. The GO says teachers will be appointed as apprentices but adds that the apprenticeship period shall be counted as probation.
“The probation period will be counted for pension and all other monetary benefits,” said a senior official of the school education department. “But teachers were denied all these benefits.” After this GO was issued, the government had started appointing teachers under apprenticeship for two years, with a stipend of Rs 1,800 per month for secondary grade teachers and Rs 2,250 per month for school assistants. After a gap of 14 years, the government hiked the stipend by 100 per cent this June. Meanwhile, school students are going without mid-day meals, thanks to the teachers strike.
The Chief Minister, Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, will give away Nandi awards to film artistes at a function in the NTR stadium here on November 8. Briefing mediapersons on the function, Information Minister Mr Anam Ramanarayana Reddy said, “The awards were for 2005 and 2006. The Chief Minister will also give NTR National Award and Raghupathi Venkaiah awards, the presentation of which is pending since 2003. We have decided to restore the earlier practice of presenting Nandi Awards on every Ugadi day.”
The minister held meeting with representatives of film industry Mr G.V. Aadiseshagiri Rao, Mr Tammareddy Bharadwaja and Mr Muralimohan besides Information commissioner Mr Parthasarathy.
It may be a coincidence but many of the awardees had recently pledged support to Congress and some even met the Chief Minister to express their solidarity. Veteran actor G. Krishna, his son Mahesh Babu, Mr Bharadwaja, comedy hero Rajendra Prasad, and producer Mr C.C. Reddy and actor Srihari were among the awardees that directly or indirectly supported Congress.
The Chief Minister, Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, is in a fix over his ministers’ squabble that landed his government in an embarrassing situation. The Chief Minister is also said to be upset with the small and medium industries, Mr. G. Surya Rao’s outburst against his colleague and panchayat raj minister, Mr. J.C. Diwakar Reddy. But, he is hesitant to take any action for two reasons: The opposition would ridicule him or Mr. Surya Rao, a Dalit, might play the caste card against him.
The finance minister, Mr. K. Rosaiah, spoke to Mr. Surya Rao and sought to know the reasons for his outburst. Who was assigned to pacify the minister, Earlier, Mr. Rosaiah held meeting with two other ministers, Mr. K. Ranga Rao and J. Geetha Reddy, whom the Chief Minister had asked to look into the controversy. The ministers also took a briefing from industries secretary Y. Srilakshmi on sand auctions in East Godavari district. Mr. Surya Rao had accused Mr. Diwakar Reddy of receiving crores of rupees in bribes from people involved in quarrying sand illegally.
On Monday, however, Mr. Surya Rao toned down the tenor of charges against Mr. Diwakar Reddy. The minister who reiterated his charges of illegal sand quarrying in the district denied having said that Mr. Diwakar Reddy received bribes. “I only said about the minister ignoring his alerts over loss of revenue,” he said. Inquiries revealed that Mr. Surya Rao was upset over Mr. Diwakar Reddy transferring an MDO on the request of the Telugu Desam MLC, Mr. N. China Rajappa. Mr. Rajappa’s wife who is the mandal parishad president had a tiff with the MDO. Despite Mr. Surya Rao’s efforts to retain the official, the panchayat raj minister forcibly implemented the transfer orders.
The Chief Minister’s camp also got information about Mr. Surya Rao’s attempts to switch over to the Praja Rajyam. “By targeting another minister from the district, Mr. Pilli Subash Chandra Bose, the minister sought to capitalise on the caste rivalry and get close to the rival caste of Mr. Bose,” a senior party leader pointed out.
The Telugu Desam party president, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, on Monday displayed government orders pertaining to the establishment of the Coastal Corridor to contest the Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekar Reddy’s comments that there was no such thing. While talking to mediapersons here, Mr Naidu displayed GO. RT No. 34 issued on February 2, 2008, wherein the state government announced the establishment of Coastal Corridor in 617 square kilometers comprising 110 revenue villages in Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts.
He also released GO. No. 126 dated March 23, 2005, and GO. No. 913 dated December 10, 2007, relating to the Petro Chemical Industrial Corridor in the same area. Charging the Chief Minister with misleading the people, Mr Naidu said that the State government decided to acquire 10 to 15 lakh acres of land by displacing lakhs of fishermen families. “Now the Chief Minister says there is no such corridor and even volunteered to scrap it if it exists,” said Mr Naidu.
“It is funny that he is not aware of the government policies and orders.” The TD chief demanded an inquiry into entire issue by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court. Mr Naidu also dared the Chief Minister to come out with facts on the Kakinada SEZ wherein Rs 2,000 crore had allegedly changed hands to keep off the ONGC.
“Originally, the project was conceived in the name of ONGC and land was acquired for it,” he said. “But suddenly, some private parties came into the scene and ONGC pulled out of the project. Why didn’t the Chief Minister try to convince the ONGC to continue in the project?” He found fault with the Prime Minster, Dr Manmohan Singh, for not being aware of the rampant corruption in the name of SEZs in the State.