A man removes red flags from around a private bus, which was reportedly blocked by CITU activists in Kerala. (Image: News18/video)
CITU leader Ajay KR, who is a member of Thiruvarppu gram panchayat in Kottayam, attacked private bus owner Rajmohan when he was removing red-coloured flags from the bus blocked by trade union workers
A scene from Malayalam actor Mohanlal’s 34-year-old film turned prophetic on Sunday morning when a local CPI(M) leader was taken into custody for allegedly attacking a bus owner in Kottayam.
According to visuals, CITU leader Ajay KR, who is a member of Thiruvarppu gram panchayat in Kottayam, attacked private bus owner Rajmohan when he was removing red-coloured flags from the bus that was blocked by trade union workers. The man had received an order from the Kerala High Court to resume services and the bus, one among four services that began operations after he returned from the Gulf, was under siege for a week due to a CITU strike.
In the video, Ajay is also seen threatening Rajmohan in the presence of Kerala police saying “he will be hacked in his house”.
This was quite similar to a scene from the movie Varavelpu (The Reception), where the bus owner Murali played by Mohanlal, was being attacked by a trade union leader after a labour strike. Written by actor-director Sreenivasan, the movie is inspired by the real-life challenges faced by his father and is directed by Sathyan Anthikad, both from communist hamlets — Patiam in Kannur and Anthikad in Thrissur. The film was not a super hit at the box office when it was released on April 7, 1989.
Moreover, the “left intellectuals” and “writers” had termed the film as a perfect example of an “anti-communist” and “anti-labour mindset” of the apolitical bourgeoise. But it became a point of discussion among the ordinary people on how those who came to invest in the state were received by the ecosystem.
It again, however, became the talk of the town 20 years ago as it found mention in the speech of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In 2003, in his inaugural speech at the Global Investor Meet (GIM) held in Kochi, which was aimed at improving the investment climate of the state, Vajpayee noted that the state was notorious for being a jinxed destination to do business.
He invoked the example of Varavelpu, which was a harsh charge against Kerala’s political climate, and had become toxic for people who aspired to achieve financial independence through entrepreneurship. “I am told that there is a Malayalam movie called Varavelpu in which your famous actor Mohanlal acts as a Gulf-returned Keralite. He invests his savings in a small business venture with high hopes. But in the end, he is forced to close down after going through many unpleasant experiences. Therefore, this conference should serve as an occasion for introspection,” he had said.
The CITU strike began on June 17 as CITU workers planted flags in front of a private bus owned by Rajmohan, who is also the vice-president of the BJP Kumarakam assembly committee, and had invited the ire of the CPI(M) as he started selling lottery tickets in front of the same bus with a centre named ‘Times Square Lucky Center’, in which he mimicked Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s attire when he was in New York to address expatriates at the Times Square on June 13. The bus owner also mimicked sitting on an old-fashioned foldable steel chair similar to the one used by the CM and was trolled for the same.