Bhubaneswar: In a clear case of making hey while the sun shines, opposition political parties in Odisha are busy in scoring brownie points as the strike by block grant teachers entered seventh day here on Wednesday.
Braving the rain, sun and high humidity, thousands of teachers across the State have been spending sleepless nights to put pressure on the government for abolition of block grant system.
While the government is yet to show its “seriousness” to fulfil the long-standing demand of the teachers, political leaders from the opposition parties have seized the opportunity to slam the government. Leaders of BJP, Congress and other political parties are making a beeline to the dharna site at Lower PMG Square to extend their support to the agitating teachers while not missing any opportunity to to slam the government on the issue.
State BJP’s poster boy and Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was the first to land at the agitation ground to be followed by Aama Odisha Party (AOP) chief Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and State Congress Chief Prasad Harichandan on Tuesday to lend a moral support to the aggrieved teachers.
All the three leaders came down heavily on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and urged the BJD government should sort out the issue immediately as the strike has paralysed the primary schooling in the State.
On Wednesday, the agitation site even witnessed a bevy of leaders from the Saffron party and Congress.
State BJP leaders Sameer Mohanty and Sajjan Sharma among others criticized the State government by saying it should regularise the teachers by paying what they deserve.
“The State government must use the funds it’s getting from the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) in regularising the block grant teachers’ job,” said BJP leader and former Education minister Samir Dey.
Meanwhile, not getting any positive response from the State government, the agitating teachers have threatened to intensify their stir and close all those educational institutions from next week.
“We will stage protest state-wide and all block grant schools and colleges will be closed from next week. The government will face the consequences in 2019 elections if it doesn’t come up with a solution as early as possible,” threatened Prakash Chandra Mohanty, convenor, State Teachers’ Federation of Odisha (STFO).
On the other hand, School and Mass Education minister Badri Narayan Patro said the government is aware about the situation and will sort out the issue soon.
At present, a block grant teacher gets a fixed salary of Rs 13,500 per month while a government regular teacher receives salary at a pay scale of Rs 9300 to Rs 34,000 and Rs 4200 grade pay including general provident fund, gratuity, medical facilities and insurance.
Claiming that they are doing the same job having same qualification as government teachers, the block grant teachers have been demanding abolition of block-grant system in which they get a wholesome amount of salary every month without any allowances or other service benefits.