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Left, Sangh Parivar join hands to fight MTNL polls

By Sandeep Joshi

NEW DELHI, OCT. 3. The Left parties might not see eye to eye with the Sangh Parivar in the national political scenario due to their ideological differences, but when it comes to elections to the trade union in the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) this theory does not hold much water.

In this year's union elections in the Capital, due on October 26, trade unions affiliated to the Left parties have joined hands with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-supported Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh (BMS) to counter the "apolitical" trade union -- MTNL Staff Union -- that has been winning the elections since its inception two years ago.

Finding it hard to dethrone the powerful MTNL Staff Union led by Swarup Singh and to fight for their survival, the Left trade unions have decided to support BMS-affiliated MTNL Majdoor Sangh. These trade unions have forgotten their differences for the time being and put aside their ideology to ensure the defeat of the MTNL Staff Union that is considered to have a stronghold among the employees.

As per the MTNL rules and regulations, employees vote for recognised unions and the one garnering the maximum number of votes is declared elected. Subsequently, the victorious union nominates five members to the powerful coordination committee formed at the corporate level. And only these representatives are authorised to hold talks either with the MTNL administration or with the government regarding their issues and demands.

In the last elections, victory of the MTNL Staff Union for the second consecutive year came as a great setback to all unions including the MTNL Majdoor Union, MTNL Employees Union, MTNL Staff Welfare Union and MTNL Workers Union.

So to prevent the incumbent union from making a hat trick, the Left supported MTNL Staff Welfare Union and MTNL Workers Union have now reached a tacit understanding with the MTNL Majdoor Sangh. Interestingly, even the Shiv Sena-affiliated MTNL Karamchari Vikas Sangathan is also backing the Sangh thus virtually making it a direct fight between two strong unions.

However, insiders say that this "extraordinary understanding" between the unions pursing different ideologies is not just to defeat their arch rival. A favourable result in the elections might see all the "united" unions sharing seats in the powerful coordination committee in the MTNL. Lack of representation in the committee for the past two years have seen these unions failing to get their demands fulfilled and are also losing their grip over the employees. So to salvage their sagging image and to gain lost ground among the employees, this election is considered crucial for these unions.

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