Not many get the opportunity to be on the Chief Minister’s team. For youngsters like me, this is a rare opportunity. The reason I call it rare is because I consider myself fortunate to be the youngest person at the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).
I’d not have taken up this job had it not been for Nara Chandrababu Naidu as the Chief Minister. The job didn’t come easy. My boss spotted the potential in me that I was oblivious to. Initially, I was skeptical to take up the job, considering the fact that my career as a journalist would end forever.
I finally took a chance. I’m glad that I’ve chosen to opt out of media. Yes, this is my honest confession. Not because I’m blinded by the Chief Minister’s spell but because I realize that one becomes pessimistic as a person in media and stops seeing/believing the positive side of things. (True Story).
As a kid, if there was anyone who I thought deserved the Chief Minister’s title, it was Chandrababu Naidu. He was the Chief Minister of (United) Andhra Pradesh (between 1995-2004) when I was in school. The first ever glimpse of Chandrababu Naidu I caught in my life was when I was 8. I was at an Aero Show where my uncle lifted me onto his shoulders for me to catch a glimpse of Chandrababu Naidu who was speaking from the podium, at least a mile away from where we were seated.
I felt a sense of joy. Because my parents did not accompany us on our trip, I was screaming to them in joy, “Yay! I saw the Chief Minister.” It was probably because I grew up in a family that believed in this man and that he would do something good for the people of Andhra Pradesh.
However, as the years passed by, my interest in politics deepened and that’s how I ended up being a journalist (by choice). As a journalist, I was trained to question everything. However, over a period of time, this profession makes you a pessimist and you wouldn’t know it unless you are out of media. (True story, again!)
My view of Chandrababu Naidu began to change on the job. I became apolitical. I believed every wrong thing said about him. At that point, I did not know that the profession I was in would feed me with negative news to suit its own needs. I believed that every media organisation was true, ethical and did objective reporting. I was wrong.
I realized this only after I got out of media. I realized that some of the people I adored as the country’s greatest journalists turned out to be corrupt people with selfish motives. However, while I was freelancing for Al Jazeera, I got an opportunity to interview Chandrababu Naidu. Getting to his chamber for the interview took me four days because this was soon after he won the 2014 elections.
That was when I met him again, after 16 years. After the interview, we shook hands and I left my card with him. I felt a sense of pride after meeting him. My only regret was that I couldn’t take a picture with him because I wasn’t allowed to take my phone to his chamber.
Later, for Yahoo Originals, I wrote an analytical piece on what lies ahead for him after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Few months into freelancing, I was asked by a journalist colleague whether I’d be interested to work for him. I blindly nodded and went to meet my boss, though I wasn’t sure of the outcome.
And, I was asked to join CMO that day itself. I needed time to absorb the fact that they chose to give me the job. I spoke to several people whether this would be the right decision. I took it anyway. And, I’m happy I did.
I do not know Chandrababu Naidu as a politician. I do not want to dwell on that. But, Chandrababu Naidu as the Chief Minister is a man of action. (I’m not blinded by him or his words). Never have I seen a leader so committed to do something for people. Even in internal meetings, he talks about how he wants to make the state better & liveable for future generations. He believes in giving back to the society and he works towards it.
A result and goal-oriented man, a man of few words, a man who believes that execution is the key to good ideas. A learned man who thinks there’s no end to knowledge. Writes down every single point he thinks is important. Underlines facts he wants to highlight.
He writes notes/words which he doesn’t know and tries to find out the meaning and context of their usage. Has great memory power and calculation ability. Reads anything and every bit of paper when he has time. Loves to learn from youngsters. Inspires people around him. Likes people who are confident and show results. Is impressed with innovation & technology. Always positive & accepting to new & big ideas. Above all, a great human being.
I consider myself lucky to have been observing this magnetic man for the last 11 months so closely. I’m lucky not because I’m there but because he believes that I can live upto his expectations. I’m also lucky because the missed photo op after the interview that day resulted in many photo opportunities that I later earned myself.
I love my job. I love the fact that I have an opportunity to be part of AP’s story.
He is the reason why I continue to learn every day. Every day is a new challenge. He encourages us to face them and learn from them. If he is working for 14-16 hours a day at 64, why can’t I at 24?
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Diary of a Girl at CMO.