"About 85 percent of the voters in Velachery are well-educated and they won't care about freebies. They will vote for a bribe-free system," says E Sarathbabu who is contesting from the constituency as an independent.
Sarath, who had created ripples among youngsters by contesting from South Chennai constituency in the Lok Sabha elections in 2009, wants to make Velachery a model constituency.
He secured over 15,890 votes then, which many consider is quite an achievement considering the fact that he had contested against a well-known candidate. He is confident that he will win the present elections because of the hard work he has done in the last two years and his support base, he claims, has tripled.
Sarath has a rags-to-riches tale to tell. As a child, his mother struggled to raise him and his siblings up in a slum area in Madipakkam in the suburbs of Chennai. However, he graduated from the prestigious BITS Pilani and did MBA in Indian Institute of Management- Ahmedabad.
He started Food King Catering Services in Ahmedabad with Rs 2,000. Food King became a phenomenally successful venture with branches in different cities which cater to many multinational companies.
In a chat with Salil Jose, the young CEO and social activist exudes confidence that the people of Velachery will send him to assembly.
You are a successful businessman. Why are you taking the trouble of contesting elections?
The idea of contesting is not to change the state at once. It is to try and prove that educated youngsters can also take part in politics for the betterment of our nation. If we can work hard and win one seat in the assembly this time, more number of educated youngsters will take interest in politics.
At least, we will be sending signals to the atrociously bold politicians of the present. The damage done in the last 60 years cannot be undone in short time. However, if there is an initiative, it will definitely make a difference and we can give our children or grandchildren a better place to live.
Image: Sarathbabu campaigns for the 2011 State Assembly elections
Text: Salil Jose
Special: Assembly elections