On a day the Karnataka Chief Minister S Siddaramaiah was forced to work from his home office as majority of the employees even in his Office in Vidhan Soudha went on strike, the State Government got into an action mode to curb the impact of the proposed mass abstention plan of over 60,000 contables on June 4. Though the Government has invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) in the State in a bid to subdue the proposed protest on June 4 by constabulary, it seems to have had little impact.
After a meeting with the Chief Minister on Thursday morning, the Director-General and Inspector-General of Police Om Prakash speaking to media said that strict actions, including dismissal of the staff will be taken against those who participate in the protest. The Police department is working overtime to convince the police force to withdraw the proposed plan for mass leave. “We agree there are some existing grievances which are being addressed to by the Government. We are a family and any effort to create any kind of confusion in the ranks of the police family will not be tolerated,” remarked Om Prakash.
Some of the provocateurs in the police unrest have been already taken into custody informed the DGP.
The success of the Karnataka Government employees who struck work across the State has worried the State Government, as despite several warnings by the State Government, the Government employees registered their protest by striking work on Thursday.
In the seat of power Vidhana Soudha and Vikasa Soudha in the city more than 80 percent of the employees struck work. The only ones to turn up for work were temporary employees on contract. What was surprising that while even in the Chief Minister’s Office, and offices of other ministers none of the employees turned up for work, except for a few contract workers.
The residents of the city were affected as officials from Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), participated in the strike and abstained from work.
With the university employees also participating in the strike, classes in most of them were affected. Some of the examinations to be held today have also been rescheduled. Lecturers of Government polytechnic and engineering colleges, who did show up to work, went back home, as a majority of lecturers abstained from work. With the Government school teachers also participating in the strike, no classes were held in the Government schools.
The Government is in a quandary as senior officers are trying to convince the constables to not to go on leave. As the policemen are not entitled to go on a strike like other Government employees, they have decided to apply for leave en masse instead.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who has been facing tremendous political pressure from Opposition and from within his own party suspects that Opposition has instigated the Government employees. Sources in Chief Minister’s office say that some elements within the party who are unhappy with the style of functioning of the Government and the delay in Cabinet re-shuffle could have also played a role in the matter.
The Government employees who are demanding parity with Central Government in pay scales has been a long pending issue, but the lack of resources in the State treasury have always prevented successive governments from taking a call. The policemen are protesting since their salaries are lowest in South India. Nor do they have as good amenities as their counterparts are given in other Southern States. Policemen in Karnataka say that they get a pittance for long duty hours.
Refusing to elaborate the contingency plan for the 4th of June, when many expect that the police constables may go on mass leave the DGP Om Prakash expressed confidence that the constables will not go on leave.