Very few know Upendra J. Chivukula in Nellore where he was born, but he is a noted person in Franklin, New Jersey in the United States of America. He was the Mayor of the township and later got elected to Legislative Assembly of the New Jersey State. Woodrow Wilson, who went on to become the President of the United States and the architect of the League of Nations is also from this State.
Mr. Upendra, who got elected to the New Jersey State Assembly in 2001, was the Deputy Speaker since 2007 for two terms. He is in race for the elections to be held on November 8 (November 9 IST). This correspondent followed Mr. Upendra for a day during his campaign.
As an immigrant Mr. Upendra aspired for the ‘American Dream'. “Education is the greatest equaliser” he said narrating the story of how he used a small lamp to study late in the night during his childhood. He got a merit scholarship to study engineering at Guindy Engineering College, Chennai. With just a few dollars in his pocket he came to the United States in 1974 and got his masters' degree in electrical engineering from the City University of New York.
One of the stops in Mr. Upendra's election campaign was Milltown. He made an appearance at a fundraiser for victims of Cyclone Irene. The organisers of the fundraiser Pasquale and Trisha Parascandolo were grateful to Mr. Upendra for the services he extended to the people of the area after the cyclone flooded their homes and left them without power for several days.
The last stop was in the house of Indian Art Collector financial consultant Umesh Gaur. Mr. Gaur threw open his personal exclusive art collection of Indian painters including one piece from M.F. Hussain's famous ‘Mother Teresa' series to the guest who paid 300 dollars each. Gaur and his paediatrician wife Sunanda Gaur played host to the event in which they auctioned four original reprints (limited editions) of Hussain's paintings.
Each reprint sold for over 1,000 dollars. Dr. Sunanda said that the reprints were purchased from the artist's agent in Hyderabad. “Everything is open. All the funds raised go for the campaign,” Mr. Upendra said. In fact an official from his office came to officiate over the auction and fund raising event.
Mr Upendra has more votes than the number of Indians in his district several of whom conducted such event to raise funds for his election campaign.