Milk is here, so is the Thrissur mayor

Daily duty continues after elevation for Ajitha in Kerala

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore
  • Published 16.12.18, 2:37 PM
  • Updated 16.12.18, 2:37 PM
  • 2 mins read
Thrissur mayor Ajitha Vijayan delivers milk

If a political narrative has been whipped up in the country around tea — sometimes a reminder of humble origins and at other times a source of perceived insult — perhaps it is time to give milk its due.

Ajitha Vijayan has been doing so — and then some.

She has been delivering milk for the past 18 years. The milk run did not stop on Wednesday, the day she became the mayor of the Thrissur Municipal Corporation in the cultural capital of Kerala.

On Thursday and Friday, too, her regular customers in Kanimangalam, a suburb in Thrissur, heard the reassuring sound of her scooter stopping outside their door before sunrise.

Milk as usual, but this time delivered by their mayor.

Ajitha, 48, says she has no plans to stop supplying milk. “Being a mayor is a temporary assignment my party has entrusted me with, but I earn my daily meal by delivering milk,” the two-time councillor told The Telegraph.

Ajitha had joined the CPI in 1999 and, since then, she has been elected twice from her home constituency, in 2005 and then again in 2015.

She was elected mayor this week under a power-share deal, with the first three years of the five-year term going to her namesake Ajitha Jayarajan, the nominee of ally CPM.

Ajitha had first started supplying milk to supplement the earnings of her husband, Vijayan, the local agent for the Milma brand of milk sachets supplied by the Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation.

Vijayan is the CPI local committee secretary for Thrissur, an influential position in the central Kerala district.

“It had become difficult with single income, so I set out delivering milk to supplement our family income,” said Ajitha, who has studied till Class XII.

She earns about Rs 10,000 a month by delivering milk. Her mayoral remuneration is around Rs 18,000.

While her milk business helped run the family and educate her only daughter, who recently found a job after completing her masters’ in pharmacy, it also helped Ajitha understand people’s issues.

“Delivering milk for so many years has given me an opportunity to be in touch with the people and understand their problems on a daily basis,” said the new mayor.

Ajitha’s day starts around 4am when she stacks the milk sachets meant for delivery and sets out at 5am on her scooter to deliver milk to more than 150 houses.

“Delivering milk takes just a few hours in the morning. So I have the entire day to fulfil my duties as a mayor,” she said.

“If I have to go somewhere on party work, I deliver the milk the night before. My customers don’t mind since everyone has refrigerators these days.”

Ajitha had earlier worked as a teacher at a local anganwadi school for toddlers run by the state’s social justice department. But she had to quit the job before she ran for the corporation election a few years ago.

She had to skip the 2010-2015 term because of her job as an anganwadi teacher, since elected representatives were not allowed to hold an office of profit.

As mayor, Ajitha wants to make the city safer for women by opening more She Lodges, an exclusive accommodation for women.

“I understand people’s problems since I live among them every day before sunrise,” she said.