Updated: May 5, 2021 10:17:03 pm
As the second Covid-19 wave continues to rip across the country, one leader who has gained prominence for helping patients is BV Srinivas, Indian Youth Congress president.
Along with his 1,000-member team, Srinivas, who hails from Karnataka, has been swiftly responding to SOS messages from across the country, arranging for beds, oxygen, medicines, plasma and even helping elders get vaccinated, and is winning massive praise online.
Before he joined politics, Srinivas was a cricketer who represented Karnataka in the under-19 team.
His sporting career came to an end after he hurt his eye in 2003.
Though he had no political background, Srinivas, who hails from Shivamogga district, decided to join the National Students’ Union of India in Bengaluru, while he was studying in the National College in Basavangudi.
He caught the attention of the Central Congress leadership after he held an agitation against right wing ideologue Pramod Mutalik in 2010.
Since 2014, Srinivas, based in New Delhi, has worked in various capacities in the Congress. He was appointed interim president of the Youth Congress in 2019 after Keshav Chand Yadav resigned following the party’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Srinivas said, “This year, starting from March 7, under the guidance and instruction of Rahul Gandhi, the youth Congress started to help people suffering from Covid-19 related issues. I am not alone in this. With me are 1,000 trained Youth Congress members.”
When asked about the praise he is receiving across social media platforms, he said, “This are difficult times and for us, humanitarian work is primary, politics comes later.”
Srinivas said if Congress was in power, they could have done much more than this. In the first wave of Covid-19 last year in March, Srinivas started a network of Youth Congress volunteers — 600 people under SOS IYC – to help migrant workers.
Srinivas said, “Then in the first week of March this year, along with Rahul Gandhi, we held series of meetings to discuss how to tackle this second wave. Our first priority was to help the people in need of emergency medicines, oxygen, plasma and even food. We set up control rooms in all states to receive SOS messages on Covid-19.”
Srinivas is the first Kannadiga to be appointed the president of the Indian Youth Congress and the second person to hold this position from South India.
The main control room for their work is in Delhi, which coordinates with all state Congress party control rooms.
Recently, his team was in the news after the Philippine embassy and New Zealand High Commission sought help from Srinivas. “@sosiyc@srinivasiyc Could you please help with oxygen cylinder urgently at the New Zealand High Commission? Thank you,” the New Zealand High Commission wrote in a now-deleted tweet. The Philippine embassy in Delhi thanked Srinivas for donating six oxygen cylinders.
This led to a war of words between the government and Congress. Reacting to this, Srinivas said, “For us, the life of a person is important and not who is the person. Our Indian culture taught us ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’(Guests are equivalent to God) and they (foreign embassies) are our guests. So when we received a distress call, we immediately reached to help them. I don’t react to those who criticise our help, I only want to say we are helping save lives of everyone who is in trouble. I don’t want to do politics on this.”
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