E. Sarath Babu is a known face among south Chennai residents for his impressive rise from humble origins. Coming from a poor family — his mother brought up five children by running a roadside food stall — the Madipakkam resident went on to start a catering company after completing his graduation at BITS and IIM, Ahmedabad. He has also been involved in welfare activities. Mr. Babu has been aiming to enter political office to cleanse politics. He contested as an Independent in three elections. In this election, he has been nominated in Alandur by the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM).
Having contested as an Independent all these years, what prompted you to join the MNM?
I have been contesting in elections since the age of 29. I started out as an Independent in the 2009 Lok Sabha election in south Chennai. Since then, I have been regularly contesting in the elections. Two years ago, I joined the MNM, attracted by its stand against the money power used by the two major Dravidian parties and against cash for votes, and its policy to rid the administration of corruption and create a hunger-free State. Anyhow, I had no plans to start any party…
What are your chances of succeeding in this election?
My chances look very promising, going by the way in which people, cutting across age groups — especially women and youngsters — are identifying the MNM as a party which can root out corruption and put in place an administration grounded in development. MNM founder and actor Kamal Haasan has a good reputation among the educated. So, in Alandur where there is a large number of middle- and upper-class voters, I am confident of doing well. In the last Lok Sabha election, I polled more than 23,000 votes.
Is there any separate manifesto for Alandur? If so, what are the priorities?
The MNM has created a separate manifesto for Alandur, promising to merge Moovarasampet village with the Chennai Corporation and installing reverse osmosis plants near water-tanks. A separate 110-kilovolt sub-station would be constructed at Nanganallur, the Adambakkam Lake would be renovated and beautified, a skating rink would be built for the residents of Mugalivakkam and the bus services would be improved. A government arts and science college would be opened at Mugalivakkam. A free coaching centre, along with an employment guarantee centre, would be started at the government school at Kovoor to train students in the civil services examination and NEET.
What is your campaign style and how are you reaching out to people?
While the two Dravidian parties enjoy good financial and cadre support, our party has never backed the concept of bringing in workers by giving them money to canvass. Though I have a large number of people working in my office and close friends, I have not allowed my business to get mingled with the party work. All those who are helping me in my campaign have volunteered. I have been on an extensive campaign, covering more than 80% of the constituency through road shows, highlighting the need for good governance.