Ramdas Athawale points finger at Alka Mittal

Vol 25, PW 17 (28 Jul 22) People & Policy

Ramdas Athawale, India's minister of state for social justice, is increasing pressure on ONGC interim managing director Alka Mittal over how the company treats its underprivileged employees.

Athawale, 62, wrote a stern letter to Mittal on July 7 (2022) for not honouring a series of directives from the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC). He accuses ONGC management of violating recruitment, promotions and transfer policies for the company's Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) employees.

"I have been informed that ONGC management is not following the above policies and not honouring the directions and recommendations of the NCSC, which is a constitutional body," Athawale reminds Mittal tersely. A member of India's Rajya Sabha upper house, Athawale is well-known among disadvantaged communities in India and the leader of the small Maharashtra-based Republican Party of India.

"Necessary action may be taken to comply with the directions and recommendations of the NCSC for the welfare of SC-ST employees at ONGC," adds Athawale. On the same day that Athawale wrote to Mittal on July 7, he also met members of ONGC's All-India Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Employee Welfare Association (AISCSTEWA) at his Shastri Bhavan office and later over dinner at his official bungalow in Delhi.

"The honourable minister (Athawale) assured us that if our issues are not resolved within a stipulated period," a union source tells us, "he will raise the matter in parliament." On July 19 (2022), members of AISCSTEWA called on NCSC chairman Vijay Sampla and NCSC vice-chairman Arun Haldar.

"Sampla assured us of his cooperation and justice for our community," adds our source. On the same day (July 19), NCSC vice-chairman Haldar sent a 14-point letter accusing ONGC management of trying to divide scheduled caste and tribe employees and of misleading the commission.

In a defiant tone, Haldar gave ONGC seven days or until July 27 (2022) to hold a meeting with AISCSTEWA or face the consequences.