This assembly election, a different kind of battle is being waged in Kozhikode district of Kerala- a former employee is pitted against the chairman of the company.
A K Sajan, a former employee at India Vision, a popular Malayalam news channel, will contest against sitting MLA MK Muneer from Kozhikode south constituency. Muneer, who is the Minister for Social Welfare and Panchayat and a UDF candidate, was also the chairman of India Vision channel, which was officially closed down in February 2015.
Sajan, who is contesting as an independent candidate, had never considered entering politics. But he has now decided to take the leap, owing to his frustration at not receiving the promised payment of his salary, while he was an employee at India Vision, that has been pending for months.
Speaking to The News Minute, Sajan said, â€śI worked as a driver at the channel from the year 2003 until it closed down. After the channel started facing financial troubles, we werenâ€™t paid our salaries properly. During the last few months, we did not receive any salary at all. Even when many employees switched jobs, some employees like me loyally stuck with the firm believing that our dues would be paid some day. But, what we received in return were empty promises from Muneer, who promised to pay our salaries at various times, but consistently defaulted, pushing many of us into debt.â€ť
Tired of raising their demands in private, the employees took to the streets and organized press meets and conducted rallies to Muneerâ€™s residence, but to no avail.
â€śPeople here consider him as a God, who walks around with a huge smile on his face. Only we realize what lies behind that smile,â€ť Sajan said.
Thirty-six-year-old Sajan will submit his affidavit on Wednesday. Sajan is clear about what he looks forward to doing: â€śI am not contesting with the hope of winning the election, but to inform people not to vote for a fraud like Muneer, who has cleverly cheated hundreds of employees like me.â€ť
Sajan narrates several months of his ordeal since the company stopped paying his salary. â€śFor the last few months, I have been taking up trips as and when people approach me. Since I do not own a taxi, people hire me to drive for long distance journeys. A few months ago, Muneer shifted out all the materials at the office on the pretext of relaunching the channel, fearing that we would claim them. However, it was a complete eyewash,â€ť he said.
A few months back, Sajan alleges that he learnt that his â€śbeloved chairmanâ€ť has not made any contribution to the employeeâ€™s provident fund which is a mandatory right for all employees. â€śPost the election, I will move legally to make him accountable for his actions,â€ť he said.
Even as flex boards are being printed and campaigning procedures are due to begin, Sajan, who represents hundreds of employees has only one thing to say: â€śWe are not against IUML that Muneer represents, but are against Muneer as an individual leader who was supposed to work for the welfare of the people, but has now become the embodiment of fraud and the reason for our distress.â€ť
In an emotional account on Facebook, a former India vision employee described his acquaintance with Sajan and the determination with which he went about doing his job until the channelâ€™s last bulletin.
â€śIâ€™m sure he isnâ€™t looking forward to winning against Muneer, nor will he get back the amount spent on election expense. But such is the hunger, the emotion that gives people strength to keep fighting so as not to be defeated in life,â€ť he wrote.