Mumbai, Feb 15 (PTI) Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) isnow set to challenge the Congress in the trade union sector,with the Sharad Pawar-led party assuming control of NationalFront of India Trade Unions (NFITU).
The trade union body, of which Pawar became Presidentlast year, plans to upstage Indian National Trade UnionCongress (INTUC) (controlled by Congress), sources said.
NCP leaders in the trade union sector will merge theiroutfits with the NFITU. However, it is not known if SharadRao, who recently merged his Hind Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat intoHind Mazdoor Sabha, another large trade union body, would doso, NCP sources said.
NFITU was founded in 1969 by former Bihar minister late SP Rai, and is active in iron, steel, electricity, gas, power,roadways, jute, tea plantations, coal and quarrying sectors.
It has been active in Delhi, Jharkhand, West Bengal,Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, through 90 member tradeunions. The current membership of NFITU is nearly seven lakh.
NCP sources said the union labour ministry will conduct amembership verification drive next year and NFITU plans toincrease its strength, to become the leading trade union bodyin the country, overtaking INTUC.
In Maharashtra, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar andother leaders will take the initiative to enlist members,sources added.
The recent induction of trade union leader KiranPawaskar, formerly with Shiv Sena, into NCP was an importantstep in this direction, they said.
However, Jaiprakash Chhajed, president of INTUC, saidNFITU did not pose any threat. "We have 75 lakh members," hesaid.