Sunday, July 14, 2024

Dil Se :KP Vivekanand – Striking a chord with service, festivities

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An engineer by education and a politician by choice, Quthbullapur MLA K.P. Vivekanand Goud has the rare distinction of winning people’s hearts through sheer service and deep involvement in public festivities and puja. He speaks to The Pioneer’s Naveena Ghanate about his father being his inspiration, politics, and quality time.

The MLA shares the delightful circumstances under which he had been to the US, after having failed to get visa to study in his dream destination, working with Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, and more.

Love for dancing

My father was a very commanding leader, authoritative, and a respectable man. He never lost any elections. A lot of parents used to show their kids that despite being landlords son, he is going in a bike.  When I was studying 5-6th Standard, at one of my cousins’ marriage, I was dancing when my uncle came and dragged me along, protesting how a municipal chairman’s son can dance on the road.

I love to dance, but stopped after becoming a politician. The last time I danced was during Jateeya Samaikya Utsavalu and the video went viral. I was very happy that day but everyone was surprised that I did teenmaar dance. I can only do teenmaar dance. During the first year of my Engineering, I performed for the freshers’ group dance and a solo dance. I danced in my marriage also.

Went to US as ACYPL

My father told me “If you go to any other country, you will be second citizen”. I pursued US visa again, it got rejected again. I was applying for a course in Construction Management for the third time with the help of my friends. Simultaneously I did contracts, after Civil Engineering. In 2001, my father fell sick due to hypoglycemia.  It changed my thoughts.

My friends also said parents will live longer if the children are at home. One bank manager Satyanarayana Murthy whom I had visited for a bank statement asked me why I wanted to go to the US. He said Venkateshwara Swamy is in Tirumala and Pittsburgh, but he is powerful in Tirumala only. If you go to the US, you will merely exist, but here you will live and support 10 others.

When I wanted to go to the US for education, they did not give visa. But later I was one among the five across India and only one from the Telangana State to represent India in the US for the American Council of Young Political Leaders:

ACYPL. Before ACYPL, I went to the US for a trip like a tourist in 2014. I was very emotional that I wanted to be there in 2001, but came in 2014.

US visa rejection

Every engineer has a dream to go to US and in my final year of Engineering I started preparing for GRE and TOEFL exams. My vocabulary was bad and scores were very low because ours is UK English while exams were in US English. One sentence I still remember is “He did not work well in the office so he was fired”. I was not even sure what the word ‘fired’ meant as I had assumed it was firing with a gun etc.

I was very desperate to go to the US. My visa was rejected for the first time during the interview despite my good scores. I could not understand the reason for the rejection. The only moment I really felt sad in my life was when my visa was rejected — not even when I lost my first election. I have never understood till date why my visa was rejected.

Shakthi Yuva Seva Samithi

My father used to say ‘make friendship with books’. After visa rejection twice, I started reading books. My direction was not clear, especially personality development. Whenever I am low or sad, I read books. I started Shakthi Yuva Seva Samithi after US visa was rejected. The motto was service for youth. To overcome my depression, I started this. My family was okay with this as our family was always known for service. I got recognition.

We are always with people of the constituency, irrespective of agitation or party. Even now leaders of all parties come and meet me.  My activities, apart from social service, include conducting Bonalu, Ayappa Swamy pujas. Thus I got noticed. I used to be involved with NGOs because I used to do volunteering. I strengthened the child labour rehabilitation camps and alcohol-free youth camps, apart from health and meditation camps.  I got a good tag in my constituency as ‘gentleman’ during early days, but now they call me ‘dynamic’.

Backbencher with good grades

I was born in Quthbullapur. My father K M Pandu was a politician. My mother is K Shyamala. We carry our father’s name as a ritual because my grandfather and father practised the tenets of Arya Samaj. My grandfather’s name was Kuna Manikyam, my father was Kuna Manikyam Pandu, I am Kuna Pandu Vivekanand, and my son goes by the name of Kuna Vivekanand Vidath.

I have two sisters: elder sister Indira Gauri is a doctor and my younger sister is Mamata. When I was a kid, my father used to say: “You think like Nizam sarkar. This is not good. Your grandfather also used to behave in a royal manner. You got all habits of your grandfather”. I was a backbencher at HMT High School, but good at studies. In 10th standard I went to Shantiniketan High School, a residential facility, because of my cousin who had joined it. Ours was a joint family. I did my SSC and Intermediate there and later shifted to Sciences.

Father wanted me to be journalist

I never had proper ambition. My father had suggested that I should go for journalism. It is still a dream for me to pursue a course in Mass Communication, at least a distance course. I picked Science because all my friends were doing it, but I did not want to write EAMCET.

My father warned me and made me write the exam. I joined Shadan College, where I attended one month and I took my sister as inspiration and wanted to become a professional like her. I dropped out from college, prepared for EAMCET again, and got 8,289th rank. I went to counselling with my father who told me that I have to travel by bus and that he would not buy me a bike. So, I picked Civil Engineering in Muffakham Jah College of Engineering and Technology because my dad wanted me to develop our properties. My father was always certain that I was not going to do job. Once I entered MJ gate, I used to feel like I got wings.

KCR’s boy in TDP

There was GHMC elections in 2009 and BRS stayed away from it. If we don’t contest, it will be one-sided. Srisalam Goud would not have an opponent and he was already powerful. Candidates interested in contesting in 7 divisions in TDP had approached me and they spoke to Chandrababu Naidu. Due to pressure from the cadre, I faxed a sorry letter to CM KCR and joined TDP.  I felt so sorry when I was leaving, as KCR has the human touch with party worker. That’s how he has succeeded so far. He is so natural, even for youngsters he would give respect and groom them. I won in 2014 naturally without much effort.

Since 2009, everyone used to tell me ‘your next MLA’ as I got such respect. Positive vibes and positive influence will always help. In 2016 I joined BRS. TDP was working purely in the interests of people of AP; so we can’t focus on our constituency. A lot of people started telling me that I am going to join BRS as KCR and KTR are close to me.  I campaigned for the GHMC elections for TDP. BRS won clearly. With KCR, joining back was like “he is my boy”.

KCR wanted me to be in BRS

In 2009, KCR garu wanted a candidate for Quthbullapur. KCR knew my father as my area was under the Siddipet Parliamentary constituency. Sudarshan Rao, who was city president at that time, spoke to me. I went and met them. KCR and Ale Narendra were there. They spoke, but I was confused if it was for my father or me. I said I will come in 100 lorries. I did not follow up after the first meet, but they started pressuring me to join. I did not disclose it to my father that I met him. Later, when I told him, my father asked me only one thing: “Did you go by yourself or did they call you? If they call you, just go and serve”.

When I met him for the second time on February 19, I can never forget his words: “All these people are youngsters like you, they became MLAs; you will also become MLA”. I was shocked when he said I will be MLA. One of my uncles who stays in Siddipet, said: “If KCR gives his word, he will stand by it; you should just have patience”. My father did not join, but KCR personally called my father. KCR told him “I will take care of Vivek, you also join, instead of staying away”.

Elections akin to Mahabharat

In 2009, I lost in the elections to my distant relative, who is from the same community with the same surname. In 2009, the contest was between distant relatives Srisailam Goud, Pratap, Kasani Gynaneshwar and I was sort of disappointed. One friend told me ‘even Mahabharat and Ramayana are about family; so, don’t feel sad’. I have never felt disappointed in losing elections. I have always given a very tough fight. I lost perhaps because I focused more on party activities than on my constituency affairs; plus there was population increase and not many knew my father. I had to sell properties for the election.

Happily married with two kids

Mine was an arranged marriage in 2003. My father-in-law was a judge and I used to interact about service through the judiciary. My father was such a principled man, he said, ‘if we are going to see the girl, there is no name calling of the girl and no dowry’. My wife used to travel along with her father.

She grew up in a very disciplined and systematic way. My father used to take care of everything at home; now I have left it to my wife. My daughter is Matrushri and son is Vidhath Vardhan and both are wonderful kids. Daughter is studying Engineering in Vignan Jyothi. Son is studying 10th class. I am not so strict father. I try to take out time for holiday and if I go home early, we join for dinner. They keep texting me.

People want me to be Minister

One thing said by KCR is happening with me. “MLA should work in such a way that people should want him to become Minister. That’s how people should love. They should not hesitate or doubt your intentions”. In my constituency, it is understood that I should next be Minister, which is up to KCR. This means I am loved by people.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao always says ‘listen carefully’. Watching CM’s speech directly has different impact, compared to seeing him on TV. When I was joining BRS, my friends were in awe of KCR’s speech.  

Quick bytes

Hobbies: Reading book, watching cricket, yoga, spending time with friends
Sad moment: When I lost my father and mother within a year
Happiest moment: When my daughter was born and the 2014 elections
Favourite colour: Copper sulphate
Favourite movie: Zindagi na milegi dobara
Favourite actor: Amitabh Bachchan
Favourite song: Khaike Paan banaras vala – my friends always play it
Favourite food: Hyderabad Biryani
Favourite holiday: Kashmir, Srinagar and Gulmarg was the best trip
Habit I want to change: Procrastination. I keep lot of homework pending
Quote you use often: People are the reason I am moving forward
Favourite politician: My father
Are you religious: I pray to God

Pets: No, I was attacked thrice but my kids want it.

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