Who is BV Srinivas, the Cong youth prez who has become India’s COVID ‘helpline’?

For lakhs of people, including those who belittle the Congress party and its cadre, 'Call or Tag Srinivas' has become the tagline of hope.

At a time when India is facing severe health crisis in the form of a second wave of COVID-19 infections, those in need are turning to social media to find resources–including hospital beds, oxygen and other essential medical aid. Volunteer groups, NGOs are often being preferred over government helplines in distress.

But every second person seeking help is tagging one person. And no, it is not Sonu Sood.

It is BV Srinivas, who is leading the exemplary service to people across the country, amid the mayhem caused by an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases.

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In an interview last week, Sonu Sood or ‘Messiah’ as he is called, said that individuals like Srinivas need to come together to save this nation. “Keep the good work going brother,” Sonu Sood said, appreciating his work.

Srinivas is hailed as the country’s ‘helpline’. The #SOSIYC is being tagged in every cry for help on Twitter and other platforms; and Srinivas’s team come to their rescue. 

For lakhs of people, including those who belittle the Congress party and its cadre, `Call or Tag Srinivas’ has become the tagline of hope.

Who is BV Srinivas?

BV Srinivas is national president of Indian Youth Congress (IYC)–the youth wing of the Congress party. 39-year-old Srinivas hails from Karnataka’s Shivamogga district , and joined the party’s student body NSUI in college.

He was also a talented wicketkeeper-batsman, who represented Karnataka in Under-19 tournaments. His career in cricket ended when he hurt his eye during a match in 2003. Later, he joined the IYC, and shifted his base from Bengaluru to Delhi.

He hit the headlines during a protest against Pramod Muthalik, a right-wing rabble-rouser from coastal Karnataka and caught the eye of the party’s central leadership. 

He soon became the national general secretary of IYC in 2014 and its president last year.

BV Srinivas with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. (Twitter)

How does #SOSIYC work?

Srinivas’ team has been monitoring social media, where requests with #SOSIYC have been pouring in from relatives and friends of patients – all in desperate search for oxygen, hospital beds, Remdesivir and blood plasma for their loved ones battling COVID-19.

At least 1000 volunteers work for the #SOSIYC campaign. They are then divided into smaller teams dealing in logistics, social media (both to react to SOS calls immediately and to prevent the spread of misinformation), home delivery for those who are in quarantine. 

A similar network is established at the district level across the country so that help could be provided pan-India at the push of a button.

But that is not the way Srinivas sees it. He refuses to see the work he and the IYC are doing, from the prism of politics. “These are difficult times and for us, humanitarian work is primary, politics comes later,” Srinivas said, as quoted by Indian Express.

But, he opined that if Congress was in power, they could have done much more than this.

“It is heart-wrenching to see that there are so many families where every single member is down with COVID and they desperately seek help,” Srinivas told NDTV.

“There are no resources at all. We try to do our best. So many of our people are risking their own health to work on this. I get to sleep for 4-5 hours but there are so many requests. We try to address each issue at the earliest,” he added.

Not just in assisting for medical aid, IYC volunteers also distribute food packets to families of those admitted in hospitals and help many in the vaccination process, including registration and payment, reports said.

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