British Indian frontline worker as a general practitioner (GP), Dr Kaushik Chakraborty, was recently elected as Councillor for the Broad Heath ward in Greater Manchester in the local elections earlier this month.
iGlobal reached out to Cllr Chakraborty to find out more about his motivation behind joining local politics, his goals as a Conservative Party politician and balancing the many pressures of a busy work schedule.
How and when did you decide to come into politics?
My journey started in 2020 when the then-candidate from Broad Heath Ward asked for my help, so I was out delivering leaflets for him and accompanying him while door-knocking. That’s when I became curious about local, grassroots level politics. And then I was also involved in Sewa Day from the very beginning.
During Covid-19, we started the food program whereby we were taking hot cooked meals twice a day, Tuesday, Thursdays to hospitals and dry, long-lasting food to various other food banks.
Volunteering has always been a passion of mine and I have been doing that for close to four years now. We also got to meet various councillors while we were volunteering. And I remember when Councillor Nathan Evans and Mrs. Laura Evans suggested that I should consider standing as a councillor myself. I was a party member prior to that, but I wasn't an active member and that's how it came into being.
Three years ago, during the pandemic, I stood for elections from my ward for the first time. We did get a decent vote and I'm thankful to the residents for that, but we were shy by about 400 odd votes. The second time around, the difference was about 240. And I said, okay, the margin is narrowing. Why not give it another shot? This time around, I was lucky. It was all teamwork. I'm grateful to every person who's voted and every person who's worked side by side. The team from the Conservatives, the team from our local Hindu community, Indian community, they've been marvellous, and they have helped us immensely.
Were you always interested in politics growing up?
In India, like most people do, we watch politics, we take a keen interest, but we watch rather than do anything. So I was more of a watcher, really!
At the beginning, your priorities are completing your studies, starting your career and settling down. After doing all those things and then having settled in your job, then you also need to do something for the samaj [community]. That is very important.
Volunteering was the perfect opportunity to give something back and so sewa [selfless service]. And then that, moving into local governance and championing local very micro-issues. My work covers a wide range of issues; from potholes, puddles and community parks to issues with bin collections, school placements, pupils having to travel to faraway places for schools.
MORE LIKE THIS…
How do you juggle being a GP with your new role as Councillor?
It is difficult to manage time. That's the most precious commodity. Luckily, I don't work full time, which is an advantage for me. I work three days in my GP surgery so that I've got some free time and follow my passion of volunteering and serving the community.
Balancing is very important, that’s what life is about. You need time for the family, especially with having young children who were also sitting the grammar school entrance exams in the past couple of years. Spending time with my parents, parents-in-laws, who usually visit us in the summer, and also visiting India at least once a year if possible.
If you look at Lord Shiva, for example, he maintains the balance of the world and perfect harmony within the universe. That’s what you learn from those teachings.
MORE LIKE THIS…
Why did you choose the Conservative Party?
I have been always interested in Conservative Party because it stands for a small state and gives you the freedom of choice. For example, in Altrincham, you've got so many different schools, like state schools, grammar schools and faith schools. This is the choice which should be available to all people. Where the child ends up can then depend upon their parental preferences and abilities and also the outcomes from the exams. What you do with the choices is entirely up to you, and we wouldn't be telling people what to do. But we must be able to offer them as many choices as possible to choose from, and we are lucky that we can in South Trafford. But not many places can do that. This is something which is very close to my heart, which the Conservatives have been championing.
In contrast, you see Labour is for high tax and lean towards having big states, for example, among other issues. But Conservative Party is what makes me feel at home and I've been a partyman for many years now.
MORE LIKE THIS…
What are your short-term and long-term goals?
I've been elected only for a year, so the things that matter most to people in Broad Heath will be my focus. For example, I'm hoping to get a pelican crossing at junction A56 with Sinderland Road. It is an extremely busy junction, and it is difficult to cross. There are elderly people, students, parents with children or even dog walkers who want to get to the Salisbury Field across the road. People just have to chance it, find the right time and run, which is very unsafe.
There is also the issue of people parking in front of houses and schools. There are roads which are constantly used because the school is nearby, and residents find this is blocking off the street. There is a request from residents to get double yellow lines in certain roads.
So there are many local issues which we are hoping to work on in the coming days.