As the clock keeps ticking away towards the much-awaited electoral polls, several leaders are leaving no stone unturned in their final campaigning stride. Telugu Desam Party’s Sri Bharat Mathukumilli too, who is contesting for the Lok Sabha seat from Vizag, has been aggressively campaigning over the past few weeks to win the trust of the voters.
Teja Kovvali interacts with Sri Bharat and finds out more about the young leader’s plans for Vizag.
You have been campaigning day in and day out. How has the experience of being directly involved in an electoral fray been?
“As a party volunteer and a family member, I had campaigned earlier in a few elections. However, being in the race as one of the candidates for the Lok Sabha constituency is totally different. There’s a lot of physical stress that is involved. I have been working out of the house for close to 19 hours a day. Fortunately, I have people, who have worked for elections in the past, to help me with planning. They are able to take up many responsibilities when it comes to devising my campaigning strategies.”
You are expected to shoulder the legacy of Dr. MVVS Murthi. How do you look at this responsibility?
“I bear the identity of being Dr. Murthi’s grandson and there are certain expectations that come along with it.
I have been connecting with many of his well-wishers. A few of them feel ownership over me and have several prepossessions on how I would operate. While I can’t incorporate everyone’s advice, I have been trying to strike a balance in the best interests of time and results. On the other side, it is equally important to create an identity of my own as at the end of the day, it is my responsibility to stand as a capable leader for the people who vote for me. Both of these aspects need to be well established.”
As a young leader, what is your take on the significance of youth in politics?
“If you look at any system, the youth comes into it without much baggage. They enter the fray with fresh thoughts and end up making a big difference.
Coming to politics, you tend to deal with a wide section of society where everyone has different expectations. It is important to adjust as per their expectations and lead them effectively. In this regard, the younger generation is more malleable to learn and, when I look at myself or other youngsters who have come in, they have been more adjusting to the environment, which is a good thing.
Furthermore, an individual should be evaluated based on his/her strengths and weaknesses. So, it is important to have someone who is well educated, has a strong value system and doesn’t have an agenda beyond what he/she states. And as an individual, I am poised to do well in this field.”
There are huge expectations among the youth when it comes to the creation of jobs. How do you plan to address them?
“The problem is already being addressed since the past five years. However, while creating an ecosystem, it will take a while before the inertia disappears from the place. We have been getting companies and making investments for the creation of jobs.
Companies will be willing to invest if there is a talent pool available in the city. On the other hand, talent will come to the city once there are opportunities available here. In order to attract talent, it is also important to develop lifestyle experiences and entertainment options within the city.
Furthermore, skill development and the establishment of high-quality educational institutions are other crucial factors in grooming the local talent.”
There has been a lot of talk about improving the Happiness Index of Vizag. What is your take on it?
“It is good that people are talking about happiness. We need to be heading in the right direction regardless of who we are as individuals and parties.
As far as the Happiness Index is concerned, there are several mental issues which are not expressed effectively in India as compared to some other countries. We, as leaders, need to be outspoken about these issues to break the taboos surrounding them. This would not only cause many people to seek help explicitly but also encourage more individuals to educate themselves about it.
Also, one of the most important things in our culture is the family system that we are rooted in. In most of the Indian households, growing up with grandparents helps children shape their values and take inner strength. This system must continue. Besides, it’s time that we introduce the importance of communication, happiness, and tackling mental issues in our education system.”
What is your agenda for Vizag?
“We have identified 10 key areas that need attention in Vizag. Health Care, Education, Tourism, Women Empowerment, Transportation, Agriculture, Pollution Control, IT & Industries, Skill Development, Sports and Civic Amenities will be our key areas of focus. We have discussed in detail about them in our manifesto.”
Ideally, how approachable would Sri Bharat be to people in Vizag?
“It is important we keep building awareness on the roles handled by different individuals involved in the system. At the same time, we need to be available to people even though they come with issues that are outside our scope.
A Member of Parliament is expected to be in Delhi for a considerable period. So, we need to establish a robust grievance redressal system to attend to the people in an MP’s absence. Overall, if the agenda is to be in people and serve them, problems can be resolved anytime.”