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MLA sights ‘historic’ rally

Baghmara legislator Dhullu Mahto is set to stage a “historic” rally in Dhanbad on Wednesday in the interest of coal workers, arguably in an effort to kill two birds with one stone as he aims to gain in stature ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

The JVM leader, who parted ways with the Bokaro MLA and party bigwig Samresh Singh-led Colliery Karmachari Sangh earlier this year, however, denied the rally would be a show of strength to stake claims for a parliamentary ticket.

“The rally has been planned to press a 35-point charter of demands for lakhs of coal workers under BCCL both in the organised and unorganised sectors,” he told mediapersons at Circuit House in Dhanbad on Sunday.

Mahto and his supporters have been preparing for the rally, to be held under the banner of United Coal Workers Union — an affiliate of All India Trade Union Congress (Aituc) — at BCCL headquarters Koyla Bhavan, for over a month.

The MLA said he had full faith in party chief Babulal Marandi and was ready to shoulder any responsibility.

He also refuted reports claiming that Marandi had disapproved of the proposed event, which has been titled Mazdoor Visthapit Adhikar Maha Rally. “We have sent invites to leaders of JVM to participate in the rally, apart from other parties,” he added.

Mahto, who is especially popular among youths in colliery areas, further said, “The rally will be a historic event, as it will compel the colliery management to consider the long pending demands of coal workers who are being exploited due to the indifference of the management.”

Prominent leaders like CPI MP and Aituc general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta and general secretaries of Indian Mine Workers Federation and United Coal Workers Union Ramendra Kumar and Lakhanlal Mahto will take part in the rally starting from Golf grounds at 9am up to Koyla Bhavan.

“We will demand the company raise the Rs 10-lakh ceiling on gratuity for coal workers,” said Lakhanlal Mahto, adding they would also push for better compensation packages for people displaced due to coal projects. Other demands include revision of workers’ pension after every three years and regular update of the provident fund passbooks.