VIJAYAWADA: Kesineni Swetha, 25, daughter of Telugu Desam’s Vijayawada MP Kesineni Srinivas alias Nani, is a debutant contesting the VMC elections as a mayoral candidate of TD. She asserts that an empowered woman has the ability to uplift society and can stand as a beacon light for growth and development. Here below are excerpts from her interview with Deccan Chronicle on Sunday.
How are women in the 21 Century?
I addressed the National Women’s Parliament held in 2017 about women being so used to hearing “no” as an answer in many fields and facing questions like“Yeh kar sakti hai kya” (Can she do this) and also the “Ammayi Kadha” comments. This, despite the fact that women are capable of doing things better than men.
Women and girls should not stop fighting against odds. They know better about themselves and what they can do. The attitude of women and girls is changing and they are becoming what they want to be, and even taking up higher political posts. Note the fact that a 21-year-old Arya Rajendran became the youngest Mayor of Trivandrum Corporation in Kerala. The state appreciated her efforts, and this shows the change in Indian politics. Recently, many young women won elections in the gram panchayat elections.
You are new to politics and what are your chances of winning the election?
I am not new to politics. I had worked as campaigner for a local senator in the US in 2014 while studying there. I had taken up the campaigning responsibility when my father Nani got the MP seat from the TD party for the first time in 2104. I came down all the way from the US and played a vital role in my father's victory. In June 2015, I became a volunteer in the team for Hillary Clinton’s poll campaign at the grassroots level. Essentially, I worked as a student leader to mobilize students on college campuses and let people know about Hillary's policies. These political experiences honed my skills to work for my father in the 2019 elections.
Do you know the problems and difficulties of the people of Vijayawada city?
I am associated with the TD for the past seven years. I had played a key role in bringing Tata Trust to Krishna district to develop villages and rural areas. I wrote the first letter to Tata Trust seeking their cooperation in developing villages under the Vijayawada parliament constituency. I got to know about the difficulties and problems of the people during my associations with Tata Trust. It was Tata Trust founder Ratan Tata who included me in his team. I had conducted a Padayatra through the city twice during the election campaign and gone to every doorstep to know of the people’s difficulties and by now I have a fairly good understanding of the citizens’ difficulties.
How did you get a ticket for the Vijayawada Mayor contest from the TD? Any influence?
As I said, I had been working with the TD for the past few years and TD chief Chandrababu Naidu offered me the ticket in due recognition of my experience in developmental activities and my political awareness. I had worked in seven assembly constituencies under the Vijayawada parliament constituency to ensure the win of my father in the 2014 and 2019 elections. I gained enormously about political strategies and played a key role in the win of my father on both times.
Where did you have your primary education and higher education?
I completed primary education in Atkinson School and VP Siddhartha School in my home city of Vijayawada and further education in the Lawrence School, Lovedale, Ooty. I completed the Intermediate course from the International School, Bangalore and did my BA degree course in Psychology and Economics from Emory University, Atlanta, USA.
Do you have experience in social service?
I had worked in the microfinance community service project, Ghana, Africa and also in the 1000 village project of Tata Trust rural development programme in Maharashtra, the Tata Trust cancer care programme in Assam, Odisha, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. My involvement with people from various sections of the society changed my attitude and inspired me to enter politics and do better service to the society.
What would you do for Vijayawada city if you win the election?
Our Vijayawada Team with the cooperation of the then TD government and legislators initiated development activities leading to the construction of the Durga Flyover and Benz circle flyover, but due to elections those projects slowed down. We started the underground drainage and storm water drains projects and these works were completed by 80 per cent. The present YSRC government stalled these works. I would work on the completion of all projects and turn Vijayawada into a clean and green city.
TD is not in power. How can you develop Vijayawada city without the cooperation of the YSRC government?
It is true that development works touched a peak in the city during the TD government from 2014 to 2019. The present YSRC government stalled Vijayawada’s development for the past two years. We had also brought central government funds due to the efforts of MP Nani. Now, we would bring funds from the Centre. Further, since I had worked with Tata Trust and other foundations, we will bring corporate social responsibility funds and grants to develop the city and we will strive to get funds from the state government also.
How are your winning chances in view of the recent conflict in TD party?
There are no such conflicts and all are resolved to win the polls. All senior party leaders in the city had worked with me in the previous elections. Some misunderstandings had erupted but these were resolved and now the party leaders are working as a team for the win of TD in the VMC elections.
Are you confident of winning the election?
Yes. The people are up-in-arms against the YSRC which failed in all aspects in the past two years. The increase in prices of essential commodities has put a huge extra financial burden on the people who were already troubled due to the corona crisis. The people of Vijayawada are angry with the YSRC government for neglecting of city and they are now readying to teach a befitting lesson to the YSRC with their vote power. Vijayawadaites are putting trust in TD for development of the city.