As India sits in its drawing room, self-quarantining and fighting this menace of COVID-19 outbreak, today lets meet this technocrat hailing from the hinterlands of Koraput, North Odisha. Let’s walk back the memory lane and track his journey from being a coder, a techie, someone who can be stereotyped as the uber – mall – ODC connoisseur to becoming the Member of Parliament from Koraput, being the lone Congress MP and a crucial member in Rahul Gandhi’s East India Congress resurgence plan. Member of Parliament Saptagiri Ulaka, the new found hope for congress in East India will be quizzed through this conversation about his experience in Lok Sabha, how he sees life different from being as a subject to the policy to a policymaker, about the rimstone of Odisha’s tourism hotspot : Koraput and much more. Let us delve and understand when we either ignore a political development today as crash or as an agenda or indulge in a laugh by sharing a crude meme, how did someone within us from the fraternity of the professional services broke the shackles of our fabled political red-tapes and make it to the Lok-Sabha within such a short span of time and with absolute honour.
Que : How different has been life from being a tech savvy engineer to now being the Member of Parliament ?
Ans : Ahh! Life has been really different on the surface of it. When you represent the dreams, aspirations and challenges of thousands of your citizens, the pressure to perform is huge. Along with that the perks, the respect and the love you receive from all is also overwhelming and different for someone who has just made a straight cut from a 9hr structured IT job. However if you discount the surficial changes and deep dive more to the fundamental and function aspect of life, it remains more or less them same. I come from a Congress family where the service to people and the ideals of Gandhi and Nehru forms the norms of the family however yes the landscape has widened, responsibility and the ability to make an impact has increased but then that’s why one joins politics. So as they say it Change is the only constant but this change for me so far been quite pleasant and fulfilling.
Que : Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Koraput or now Delhi ?
Ans: I am not a very territorial person. Every city has its own stories and soul. I have got my mixed bag of memories in all these cities. Delhi as a city is not new for me and I really like the vibe and the people of this city. As a MP things slightly change and I am exploring them. If asked one amongst these where my heart lies any day it will be Koraput because of its food, culture people and most importantly the green cover of it. Koraput is home and our heart lies in your roots.
Que : Since the day we know each other, you have always been a sucker for this combination “Educated. Tribal And Rank File’s voice” to ensure the voice of the tribes in the nation be in the forefront. How have this viewed shifted now since you have become one of the major stakeholder now ?
Ans: Very much the same. However being in the parliament as given me a new perspective and dimension that it is never that easy or rosy for an educated tribal person at the helm in Delhi to make his voice heard. You might have known my incident that happened with the BJD MPs where I was not allowed to even keep my point. Such is the nature of disparity that exists even at the top of the pyramid. There is sense of entitlement by the so called mainstream elites against the tribes but the best way to drain it out is standing there with persuasion and keep raising your rights and increasing the socio-political participation!
Que : Well, We all know what giant political legacy you have to do justice to ? How is the pressure doing ? Have people already started comparing you with ‘The Ramachhandra Ulaka’ ?
Ans : The pressure is always there not because of my father’s legacy but due to the aspirations and hope that the people of Koraput has from me. My father was a self-made man, one thing that he has always taught me is things that are earned the hard way tastes the sweetest. Neither he as ever taken any shortcuts in his life nor has he compromised his ideologies nor will I do. I strive to create my own identity and legacy for the people of Koraput and Odisha by work, love and dedication.
Que : Your best experience in the hallowed walls in the parliament so far ?
Ans: My first address in the prestigious hall of the Lok-Sabha was outrageously over whelming. I have heard from the seniors in the walls of LS consumes yourself in its history and magnitude. I exactly felt to be a part of the history when I raised for the first time to represent my people, their aspirations and challenges.
Que : Who is your favourite political leader amongst the active ones nationally and in the state of Odisha ?
Ans : National leader undoubtably is Rahul ji. I was dragged to active politics being inspired by his ideological fight against the fascist force of RSS. There are few leaders in the state who inspire and I learn a lot from them. The likes Tara Prasad Bahinipati, Sura Routray, Pradeep Majhi has inspired me a lot and I have learned lot of hacks in politics and public service from these stalwart congressmen from Odisha.
Que : Interesting how almost every educated congress leader you talk of, opines unanimously that Mr Gandhi as their leader. What is your version of Rahul Gandhi on your interactions and his vision on India as comprehended by you ?
Ans : Rahul Gandhi is a leader who leads with example. To me he symbolises the dreams 21st Century’s India. He is Bold. Confident. Empathetic and has the ability to remain connected to his roots. From whatever conversations I have got the chance to have with him his vision of India is extremely clear, He wants an India for and by the Indians. He is someone who is staunch believer in the ideals of Gandhi and Nehru, at the same has the ability to appreciate the role of Subash and Tilak in our freedom struggle. Thus Rahul Gandhi is something that India needs today and Congress is an inseparable part of India thus Rahul Gandhi is what Congress and all congressmen need today for a better India.
Que : How do you see fractions and internal sabotaging in general as a major deterrence for young aspirational folks to join in ?
Ans : This is true and this more because of the lack of people with professional education in the rank and file. The ones in the lower and middle rung of the organizational setup are people with very least non-relevant educational exposure thus they cant apply those practically and what that leads to is sycophancy and hypocrisy. How can a person beat this curve ? By participating in the process in large numbers. Trying to be there and make an impact. What political parties can do to beat this issue ? They need to come up with interfaces that will enable a smooth onboarding of an educated person into the party forum. INC has started few of its flagship programs in this regard like the Shakti App or be it the AIPC initiative.
Que : The couple of my friends from Koraput who knew that I am going to have this discussion what dearly to ask you, your vision to map Koraput as a prominent district in the state landscape and how can they act as a cog in that spin of development ?
Ans : I welcome everyone who wants to be a part of the development initiative of Koraput. My doors are always open for not just people from koraput but entire Odisha who wants to discuss any ideas and issues with me regarding the area’s development or any personal ventures of theirs where I can be of some help and that in turn will help the people of Koraput. As of now all I can lets each of be proud koraputia and represent our culture and flavour where ever work we do and try to encourage people to come and visit the serene Koraput. This will not only boost the tourism but will also position Koraput in the national/international map. Regarding my detailed vision for Koraput, it is there in my manifesto or on my website too. In one line I can say I will try to built an inclusive Koraput, an ecosystem that co-creates and supports everyone in the cog.
Que : What would be your one shot message to all the young Indians reading this piece on you on a lazy Sunday afternoon with the alarms of the Monday Blues starting to ring in their head ?
Ans : My message will be being apolitical will be the biggest sin that we can commit as young citizens of India for the generations to come. We are living through a very difficult time in India where opinions are highly divided, the society is broken down to a binary of either with us or not, there is a very little scope to dissent – the onus is on us, the young to restore back the social, sober and inclusive India in the house. In order to beat the menace of fake news and social media influence be aware and take the matters of polity and governance not a butt of joke. Please don’t just share a Rahul Gandhi Pappu meme or a Modi Feku meme just like that without knowing the reality behind those claims. Please be politically aware and vote. This is our country and we MPs are you representatives so your awareness will hold us accountable.