Rama Krishna Sangem
“The Congress government led by Chief Minister Revanth Reddy should uphold democratic atmosphere in Telangana, besides taking care of the interests of poor and needy,” said Working People’s Coalition (WPC) Secretary Brother Theckanath Varghese. He congratulated the newly elected government of Telangana and reminded the CM and other ministers of their responsibilities to people.
Br Varghese has been working with Jago Telangana and other non-political secular organisations. They worked for the regime change in Telangana in the recent assembly elections. The Working People’s Coalition is a platform of independent unorganized workers organisations.
He is also associated with several people’s organisations representing different sections like unorganized labour, transgender persons and street children, domestic workers and garbage collectors. While fighting for their just demands, MSI also involved in campaigning for democratic atmosphere in Telangana.
Talking to Excel India at his office in Ramanthapur,Hyderabad this week, on the public expectations from the Revanth Reddy led Congress government, Br Varghese said that voiceless people must be given priority in the policy framing as well as its implementation. For the last few months, Br Varghese took part in several meetings of these social groups and documented their legitimate demands, pending for long.
Democratic space is important
“Some of the schemes of the previous BRS government led by KCR were good. For example, welfare measures like Double Bedrooms is a progressive step. In fact, we suggested this universal housing for poor in 2013. but that government neglected democratic space. There was a democratic deficit in Telangana for the last 10 years. Closure of Dharna Chowk was one such bad decision, we have opposed it,” said Varghese.
What distanced people from the previous regime was inaccessibility of the CM who heads the government to the common man. There was an impression that the government was run by remote. People were not ready to accept that. We had to fight for a change in regime here. A change of regime is absolutely democratic. We needed alternative policy formulations and steps to improve the conditions of the poor and needy,” said Varghese.
Br Varghese explained that Jago Telangana which included persons like Justice (Retd) Chandrakumar, retired IAS official A Murali, among others, fought for certain core values. They are: 1. Safeguarding secularism as mentioned in our Constitution. 2. Strengthening democracy in Telangana. 3. Fighting for unorganized workers. 4. Protection of minorities and vulnerable sections like garbage collectors and transgenders etc.
These are guiding principles of MSI (Montfort Social Instituted, for which Br Varghese is the director)
Expectations from this government
the new Congress government led by CM Revanth Reddy and Dy CM Bhatti Vikramarka should take steps to protect the interests of all vulnerable social groups like religious minorities including Christians who felt insecure presently. All the poor and unorganized sections like garbage collectors, gig and platform workers, domestic workers, women and transgenders, said Br Varghese.
He hoped that the new government would keep its promises made to people during elections and work for basic values like upholding democratic space and promoting inclusive growth through necessary welfare schemes, for targeted poor and needy. “Inclusive development should not be limited to words, but be shown in practice. Rights of unorganized workers like domestic workers should be protected through laws,” said Varghese.
“There are about 60,000 garbage collectors in Telangana, and they play a key role in promoting sanitation and health of people. So, they must be supported through several schemes. Similarly, thousands of domestic workers should be brought under labour laws and their welfare must be taken care of. We have suggested a comprehensive law for their welfare and I hope this government would respond to it,” said he.
Br Varghese suggested CM Revanth should take steps to fill all vacancies in government jobs as youth are waiting for them for long. Releasing a job calendar as promised in the Congress manifesto would go a long way in instilling confidence among the youth. Tackling corruption is another major challenge before the new government as people are vexed with the problem for long.
“Free bus ride for women is good”
Br Varghese appreciated the government decision to provide free bus ride for women as it go a long way in empowering them in many ways. Besides helping girls, transgender and poor women to save some money, the facility will also make them go out and learn deal with small businesses and other things. The government should add more buses to its fleet and ensure RTC doesn’t steeped in losses by reimbursing the deficit.”Their mobility will go up,” said he.
Br Varghese reminded that MSI and others were advocating for long for a UBI – Universal Basic Income – scheme targeting the poor and needy in rural and urban areas. “Resources should be spent on the targeted people so that they won’t go waste,” he said. Economic empowerment is linked to the social and community well-being of these vulnerable sections.
Jago Telangana and other civil society organisations will continue their in the coming Lok Sabha elections too. he said. As the parliamentary elections will be mainly fought between the ruling BJP and main opposition Congress and other India bloc parties at the national level, these organisations are likely to back secular and democratic forces in general. “We will work around the same core values of ours,” added Br Varghese.