RTI activist aims at clean sweep

CHENNAI: After exposing major irregularities in distribution of old-age pension in the postal department and in allocation of houses to bureaucrats under the Government discretionary quota, RTI activist Gopalakrishnan Velu has decided to “clear the contaminated local body” by contesting the forthcoming election.

“My one-line manifesto is putting an end to corruption in local administration. Chennaiites are sick of paying bribe to local administrators,” said Gopalakrishnan Velu, the RTI activist who is contesting in 131 and 138 wards in the city.

Citing an example, 38-year-old Gopalkrishnan narrated a personal experience in MGR Nagar, where he resides. “If the elected members found sand or bricks being unloaded for construction of a house on a street, he/she would immediately demand a minimum of Rs 10,000 as bribe,” said Gopalkrishnan. “If the residents failed to pay up, the elected member will create trouble to hinder the construction activity,” he said.

When asked about this sudden decision, he said,. “The Anna Hazare movement against graft in the country has given us a hope of changing that political trend,” he told Express.

“People have woken up. We witnessed a new kind of uproar against corruption in Chennai too, when Anna observed a fast in Delhi,” he said, adding,”The response from people inspired me to move to the next level.”

An engineering graduate, Gopalkrishnan has been fighting against injustice from his college days. Since he failed to pay donation for the engineering stream he wanted to specialise in (despite having got a free seat under the Government quota), the college authorities denied him a hall ticket, forcing him to� move the court for relief. Though Gopalakrishnan has been involved in social work for a long time, he joined the 5th pillar, a movement against corruption, and was actively involved in its activities.

He was the man behind the CBI’s action against graft in distribution of old-age pension in the postal department and also exposed irregularities in allocation of houses to top government officials under discretionary quota.� The activist clarified that it was a mistake on the part of the government body that had forced him to contest from two wards. “While the Government has notified Nallathambi Street in MGR Nagar, where I live, under ward 138, the names of the voters in the street appear in the rolls for Ward 131, forcing me to contest from both the wards,” he said.

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