Thursday, May 06, 2010
Working for the people
COLUMN: AT THE HELM
The popular MLA from Tripunithara, K. Babu enjoys the interaction with his voters, and tries to render help as often as he can
By Shevlin Sebastian
At 8 a.m., on April 27, the day of the nation-wide hartal called by the Left parties, K. Babu, MLA, has visitors at his home in Tripunithara. Among them is young Rajesh, a Kashmir-based jawan of the Indian Army, who has come home for a vacation. But his ticket is wait-listed for his return journey on April 30.
Babu writes a recommendation letter but warns Rajesh, good-humouredly, “There are four MPs who have their base in Kochi. So, if my request is blocked, call me up.”
Every morning, about 100 people come to his house with various complaints. “Some need a letter of introduction for a ration card,” says Babu. “Some want a recommendation for a job, while others want a marriage certificate to be attested.”
Usually by 9 a.m. Babu leaves the house. On Sunday, April 25, this is what his programme looked like: Babu first headed for the Anjumana temple at Edapally for a function.
From there he went to Angamaly where he attended an event at a jewellery store, the 60th birthday celebrations of a man, and the First Holy Communion mass for a child. Thereafter, he drove to Thrikakkara and Kakkanad for several weddings. It was at 2.40 p.m. when he reached home and had his lunch.
Within half an hour he was on the road. This time it was to pay condolence calls at Vytilla and Kaloor. He then proceeded to the MLA guest house where there was a conciliation meeting between the workers and the management of Apollo Tyres. Babu is the union president.
Thereafter, Babu went for a programme for women at Thrikkakara. He then attended a function at St. Jude’s church at Thammanam followed by the Building and Roadworkers Federation meeting at Rajendra Maidan. The time was at 6 p.m.
At Cannon Shed Road, there was another meeting. Then Babu attended resident association functions at Masjid Road, P.J. Antony Road and Thoppil Road. “By this time it was 8.45 p.m.,” says Babu. He then rushed to the IMA hall to attend a wedding reception. When Babu reached home it was 9.30 p.m.
“I do this because I want to keep in touch with the people, during happy and sad moments,” says Babu. “I enjoy the interaction. The people are also glad to see me.”
Babu has been an MLA for the past 19 years. So what have been his achievements?
He rattles them off: “The biggest achievement was the setting up of the Choondi drinking water project,” he says. “It has solved the water problems of Tripunithara.” A faculty building has come up at the RLV College of Music. At Vytilla, a Kerala State Electricity Board substation has been put up. “This has reduced the number of power cuts in the area,” he says.
A taluk hospital, a fire station, and a bridge have also been constructed at Tripunithara, apart from a 350-bed hospital at Ayurveda College and a hospital at Thrikakkara.
But a frank Babu admits that the big failure has been the non-completion of the Edapally rail overbridge. As a result, thousands of people are inconvenienced every day because of long waits at the railway crossing.
“The overbridge was to have been completed in 2007,” he says. “I blame the contractor for this.” The contract has been re-tendered and it will take another one and a half years before the work is complete.
Babu talks about other problems. “In Tripunithara, there is a lot of traffic congestion,” he says. “We need to build a bypass, but land acquisition is a problem. The Kakkanad-Palarivattom road is always choked with traffic. We need to make a parallel road. Flyovers will have to come up at Palarivattom, Edapally and Vytilla.”
From his enthusiastic talk, it is clear that he enjoys being a politician but he admits that he has paid a high price for it. “I have sacrificed my family life,” he says. “I have rarely gone out with them anywhere. I work 365 days a year.”
But this hard work is paying dividends. Says long-time resident of Tripunithara, Antony Maleth: “Babu has done so many good works for the constituency. Even though he is a MLA, he mingles easily with the people, and never disappoints anybody who comes to him for help.”
This will make Babu happy. Exactly a year later is the Assembly elections, but with the Congress set to sweep the elections, K. Babu looks all set to complete a quarter of a century as the MLA from Tripunithara.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi)
at May 06, 2010