With less than two weeks left for elections, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP candidate, from Visakhapatnam, Sri Bharat Mathukumilli, campaigns as he interacts with people from different walks of life.
‘Let’s Talk’, devised as an interactive platform, threw the floor open for questions from people across age groups. The evening, held at Hotel Daspalla in Visakhapatnam, began with Sri Bharat introducing himself, in what he called his ‘five-minute intro version’. Educated at Stanford University, he called it a choice he made to get away from the sheltered home environment and create a name for himself. He started off at Purdue University for a B.S in Industrial Engineering, worked with GITAM Hyderabad, followed by an MBA at Stanford University in 2016. This well-educated lad then took up independent projects and decided to foray into politics, when his grandfather Late Sri MVVS Murthi, put the idea forward. After the untimely demise of his grandfather, Sri Bharat had to take over the charge as the President of GITAM.
Highlighting one of the reasons behind ‘Let’s Talk’, he shared that he was curious, and open-minded, to know what questions people would have for him. He also reflected on how many media warriors today prefer to pass comments from their computers but aren’t willing to come forth and talk; meaning that they lack the persistence to look for answers. Sharp wit and a sense of humour prevailed as he fielded the questions with ease thereby showcasing his willingness to work with people.
Connect with Visakhapatnam and family politics
Tracing his close bond with the city since childhood, Sri Bharat highlights that his first project in Visakhapatnam and his foray into politics since the last few months have kept him here. Talking about the latter, he added that both his maternal and paternal grandfathers motivated him into joining politics.
“They said that I should be the best in whatever I wanted to pursue and opt for independent growth if I was seeking personal satisfaction. They, however, added that it wouldn’t give me the satisfaction that public service provided.” He also took matters into his stride when asked why was it that only politician’s children take up politics.
“It is my kula-vrutti” (family occupation), he shared light-heartedly, adding this to be prevalent across the country, and it was important for people to see who can actually create an impact through this.
“Just like an actor’s son takes to films, a doctor’s son takes to health care, a farmer’s son takes to agriculture it’s the same here. Not all are successful, and only some can put the opportunity to positive use”, he added.
Foreseeing his role
“If I pick up a problem, I will look for the solution. I don’t settle with a quick fix or a shortcut for temporary relief. The path to seeking a solution needs to be dynamic.”
Talking about his role in policy making, he said that as a representative of the people, he would be their voice to the state and central level. Respecting the individual roles, in the hierarchy of the system, he shared that it wasn’t possible for one person to change everything, but assured that he would work in his capacity to bring change, which has to be done together.
Manifesto for the city
Talking about the manifesto, which would officially be released in a day or two, he has highlighted working on areas of pollution (port and vehicular traffic), improving profitability of public sector enterprises (e.g. steel plant), public and private healthcare, urban infrastructure and civic amenities, drainage, urban parks, transportation, quality of education, creating a skills warehouse, etc. With 178 companies having announced investments into Visakhapatnam and the scope of creating 1.5 lakh jobs being created in Visakhapatnam alone, he highlighted how skill training has to be improved. Talking about handling traffic, he suggested the conversion of 1000 GVMC plots into parking lots and spoke of the importance of a masterplan for the city, which needed to be worked out with GVMC.
Schemes for people
With 90% of the welfare schemes catering to people from below poverty line, his agenda for the middle class also came into question. Sri Bharat opined that discrimination, and day to day existence, are immediate problems that have to be addressed to uplift the lower classes. However, he opined that someone always feels left out when the government provides schemes and shared that he was ready to discuss what could be done to help the citizens of Vizag. For wealth centering with the 1%, he said, “It’s true that most of the wealth is with the 1% population. And it’s true across the world. To solve this, equitable opportunities need to be given to all. Fielding a question on atrocities against women and children, he reflected that he would like to analyse the issue in detail, with a root cause analysis rather than give a surface reaction. He also highlighted that while legal Acts, and judiciary support, are for damage control, solutions for these lie in a change of mindset among people.
Power of youth
Calling the ‘act of writing it down on a bond paper’, as promised by a fellow contestant, to be a necessary act of gimmick in politics, he said that he could only give the assurance of doing his best, which is the more honest and realistic assurance any MP could give. He added that there are so many more questions that hadn’t been answered by his competitors yet. Another interesting question, which came up, highlighted how leaders 40 years ago would first work in public service, before entering politics, and how today everyone in business was entering politics. Questioning what the reason could be behind this, Sri Bharat felt that it was the vote of people that decided their leader and this question would be best answered by them.
“Voters shouldn’t get easily influenced. They must choose a good leader. Governance isn’t simple, and just like a company can’t run with a change of management frequently, it’s the same with the government.”