Even as Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) employees' strike continues and reports of several protestors committing suicide, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has washed his hands off the matter stating that it is not his responsibility.
"TSRTC workers who have committed suicide are not my responsibility. They are responsible for themselves. We did not ask them to protest. Unions provoked them," Mr Rao said addressing a press conference in the state capital.
"The fact is, soon the TSRTC will get dissolved and shut down. Nobody can stop this from happening. Merger demand is not accepted at all," the Chief Minister added.
Opposition leaders from BJP and Congress alike, however, have strongly objected to the statement.
"KCR is acting more like CEO of a profit-centric private enterprise than the chief minister of a democratically run state government. His statements on RTC and its employees reflect his neo-capitalist mindset. The party feels that he is behaving irresponsibly by underplaying RTC role in the public transport system of the state," said BJP Telangana chief spokesperson K Krishna Saagar Rao.
The BJP leader said that the RTC is a welfare initiative for public transport, to connect to the remotest villages and towns in Telangana, which otherwise can't be connected by private operators due to route-passenger ratio.
"It's commercially impossible for private operators to ply buses on unviable routes. The RTC ticket prices for poor and needy passengers can never be matched by private operators. BJP condemns the open threat issued by KCR to striking RTC employees that RTC will completely be shut down sooner than later," he said.
The leader also accused KCR of taking advantage of the strike and trying to "sell the public transport system in Telangana to his pet private enterprises at the cost of poor and needy passengers and 50,000 RTC employees".
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Sarvan compared the chief minister to a dictator.
"Just as blind do not see the end, an arrogant dictator also does not see the rationality in others' arguments. So is the case with Rao. By-election victory has not only blinded but also deafened him," Sarvan said.
He said that the Congress party strongly condemns the arrogant response of KCR on the matter.
"We demand that he calls a discussion with the striking RTC employees and resolve the issue. It is absurd and inhumane on the part of KCR that he does not take any responsibility of RTC employees who committed suicides," the Congress leader said.
Sarvan said that all the suicides and deaths of RTC employees are blatant murders committed by the irresponsible government of KCR.
Taking a different stand, TRS ally AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi has extended support to KCR's controversial stand.
"The strike is not good for anyone. Hope the issue is resolved amicably and striking TSRTC employees should understand the gravity of the situation," Mr Owaisi said.
Over 49,000 workers have been on strike since October 5, protesting against the state government's order to sack over 40,000 employees of TSRTC.