India : A leftist and workers' man, at 72 he still leads with fire
At forefront of KSRTC drivers and workers welfare union, the 72 year
old has not lost his fervor to stage agitations for what he believes is for the good of the workers.
As state president of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Subbarao has been known as a tough negotiator and one who commands respect.
The two back-to-back successful protests since 2012, lead by Subbarao, which brought the government to its knees is a prime example of the trade union leader's sway in the transport department.
Born in Arkalgud, Hassan, Subbarao has always been a left leaning personality. Related to the prominent Karnataka CPI(M) leader S Suryanarayana Rao, Subbarao entered trade union circles as part of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).
Known to be a factional leader of the trade unions in his early days, Subbarao grew through the ranks of the AITUC and became its state general secretary and now president.
He has been part of the AITUC for the last 45 years.
Over the last decade, Subbarao has been an active part of the AITUC led protests for KSRTC workers where the trade union has a huge support.
So much so, other unions in the transport department do not dare to oppose Subbarao's decision and abide by his word.
During the recent impasse with the state government, it is said despite several drivers and conductors ready to go back to work after the first day of strike none wanted to offend Subbarao.
Outsiders, including several trade union leaders believe that Subbarao is a man with "standing" in the trade union circles.
"Comrade Subbarao has been a leading trade union activist and he is a man who respected in the struggle for the workers. There is no two words about that," said CPI (M) state secretary V J K Nair.
INTUC state general secretary Shantharam lauded Subbarao for his patience and lending a ear to diverse views.
"A prime example of this is his attitude towards agreeing to a reduced hike in payscale for the transport department workers on Wednesday. If he did not acceede to other views, then the protest would have still continued," said Shantharam.
However, it is also believed that Subbarao is easily swayed by people around him and can be difficult at times to convince with regard to certain issues.
It is said Subbarao does not possess the organisational skills to keep his AITUC members together, with allegations of supposed corruption and violence by his union members being widely seen in trade union circles.
But despite the lacunaes, Subbarao has left a rich history of having been the man behind the transport workers fight for equal pay and rights.