Left MP, Congress MLA get into war of words over mayor-driver row in Kerala

Mayor Arya Rajendran
Mayor Arya Rajendran

Thiruvananthapuram | Coming out in support of Mayor Arya Rajendran, CPI(M) leader and Rajya Sabha member A A Rahim said on Thursday that the allegation claiming her husband, Sachin Dev MLA, forced passengers of a state-run transport bus to deboard was false.

Speaking to the media here, Rahim said the MLA, in fact, got on to the bus and asked the driver to take it to the depot, and sought a ticket for that ride.

Rahim's response came after the media reports and the Congress party's allegations that the MLA forced the passengers to deboard the bus and blocked the service on the night of April 27 in Thiruvananthapuram city.

"The MLA (Sachin Dev) did not ask the people to leave the bus. It's absolutely false. After the issue, he got on to the bus and asked for a ticket to the bus depot. However, the bus authorities tried to arrange another vehicle for the stranded passengers as they normally do in such circumstances," Rahim, who is also DYFI national president, said.

The DYFI leader's statement also contradicts Arya Rajendran's earlier reported remarks that Sachin Dev did not board the bus during their protest against the driver.

Later in a Facebook post, Rahim rejected the reports and accused the media of distorting the mayor's statement on Sachin Dev's alleged role in the incident.

According to them (Mayor and her husband), the protest arose because the bus driver had allegedly made sexually suggestive gestures towards Arya Rajendran and her sister-in-law while they were traveling in their private car.

Reacting to Rahim's statement, Congress leader and MLA M Vincent asked why a legislator who came by a car suddenly got on to a bus to travel.

Vincent alleged that soon after the incident, the conductor of the bus called the MP instead of the police.

"Now Rahim is claiming that the MLA (Sachin Dev) got into the bus to travel till Thampanoor. Did an MLA who came by car suddenly decided to travel by public transport? Instead of calling the police, the conductor called the MP. It seemed like the conductor is standing with Rahim and his party," Vincent alleged.

The Kerala police have registered a case against the Kerala State Road Transport Service bus driver for allegedly showing sexually suggestive gestures at the mayor and her family while they were travelling in their private vehicle.

The visuals of the mayor and her family questioning the driver of the bus after blocking it with their car at a signal near Palayam have gone viral.

The driver has denied the allegations and claimed that it was an issue of not giving way to her vehicle.

"She has been the mayor of the city for sometime. She travels in her private vehicle or sometimes on her father's scooter. Has she ever created any such issue before? Why would two women block the bus without any reason?" Rahim asked.

He alleged that the driver had been accused in similar incidents earlier as well.

Meanwhile, the Kerala police on Wednesday said that the memory card of the CCTV camera on the KSRTC bus, which was vital evidence in the ongoing rift between the Thiruvananthapuram Mayor and the driver, was missing.

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