An MLA who took the people for a ride

For once, a group of people in Tami Nadu’s Erode district did not mind being taken for a ride by their local MLA. That they were actually pleased may have something to do with the fact that they were stranded passengers, and the elected representative had come to their aid.

Commuters at the Anthiyur bus stand were left helpless on Friday after Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation staff, dissatisfied with the wage pact offered by the government, went on strike.

Following Thursday’s flash strike, the Corporation had on Friday sought to make interim arrangements by inviting those with licences to drive heavy vehicles to operate buses on an ad hoc basis.

When K.R. Rajakrishnan, a legislator from the ruling AIADMK, came to inspect the Anthiyur bus stand, he found that commuters had been waiting for hours. He went to the depot, informed the branch manager that he was willing to drive a bus, and gave his original licence to him. After verifying his licence, the manager asked him to drive a bus on the Anthiyur to Bhavani route, a 16 km journey. Mr. Rajakrishnan took the wheel, and with the conductor Saravanan (who did not participate in the strike), set off with 35 passengers at 3 p.m. After dropping the passengers, he returned to Anthiyur by 4.10 p.m. The MLA told The Hindu that as farmer and businessman, he owns a lorry and tractor for which he had a heavy vehicle licence and heavy goods vehicle license since 1990.

The MLA’s effort, however, was not universally popular. Around ten members of Labour Progressive Federation, affiliated to the DMK, protested at the bus stand, raising slogans against the MLA.