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Naidu applauds strike judgment

Chennai, Aug. 7: Chandrababu Naidu today became the first chief minister to publicly welcome the Supreme Court’s outlawing of strike by government workers, and he did it on Jayalalalithaa’s turf.

“Strike is not the correct approach,” he said. “In India, everyone is fond of democracy and we talk only of our rights though the Constitution speaks of both fundamental rights and duties.”

About two weeks ago, Naidu had rung up his Tamil Nadu counterpart and strayed from the topic at hand to commend her crackdown on around 200,000 government workers. “It is good that the employees of Tamil Nadu have realised their mistake of forsaking public responsibilities,” he had told her.

The Andhra chief minister spoke much the same language today at the foundation-day celebrations of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation here. He, however, stayed clear of the workers’ strike in Tamil Nadu.

Naidu was reacting to the apex court’s ruling yesterday that government employees and their unions had “no legal, fundamental, moral or justifiable or equitable right to strike”.

Fighting for “someone’s rights”, he said, often hurt the rights of other sections of society. “Too many strikes and bandhs” were the bane of the country.

Naidu held parties equally responsible for strikes, many of which he said ruined public property “built with precious government resources”. “We are thus destroying our economy.”

He cited Japan’s protest tactic of wearing black badges and coming to work to “ensure more productivity”. In India, however, “we often come to the streets” and “destroy” private and public property, he said.

Negotiations and conciliation were the solution to grievances, Naidu said. “I have resolved all problems” in my state, he said. The chief minister’s reference must have included the reforms he introduced in Andhra’s power utility, entailing tackling of workers’ unions.

But political leaders in a democracy, he emphasised, could not ignore people’s grievances as “we have to again go to the people to seek a fresh mandate”.

The dwindling of industrial and students’ unrest in recent years along with the apex court’s latest ruling showed that “positive thinking is developing in India now”, he said.

Naidu took the opportunity to mention inter-state river water disputes. Like Tamil Nadu, Andhra, too, faced a problem with Karnataka over the Almatti dam, he said. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been facing off over sharing of Cauvery water. Such disputes must be settled amicably in the spirit of the federal set-up and ensuring the rights of lower riparian states, the chief minister said.

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