“I remember him as a bookworm and a person of few words,” said R Badrinarayanan, correspondent of Deenabandhu Ashramam, describing his schoolmate, V S Sampath, the next Chief Election Commissioner.
Sampath and Badri had studied together at the Wallajah Municipal School where the former had topped the school in SSLC in 1966. “He was a very unassuming person and teachers had great regard for him,” he added. The two later came back together for the pre-university course at Abdul Hakeem College in Melvisharam. Sampath then went to Chennai to pursue BA in English Literature at Presidency College and also completed MA from the same college.
Sampath’s father Veeravalli Sundram worked at Central PWD at Chennai though his family lived at Wallajah. The Veeravalli family had some ancestral property in their native village Chengadu, around seven km from Wallajah. Sampath was the youngest son in the family of five - two daughters and three sons. After Sampath completed PUC, the family sold the ancestral property and moved to Chennai.
Sampth’s first job was in Madurai, at the income tax office. He then took up UPSC and after passing the examination was appointed as the Collector of Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh from 1979-82. Though he was born in Tamil Nadu, he built his career in Andhra Pradesh. “When I came to know of his elevation as the Chief Election Officer, I sent him an SMS, to which he had replied ‘Thanks Badri’,” he added.
A close cousin of V S Sampath, Veeravalli K Badrinarayanan who is a retired bank officer, and lives in Tiruchy, expressed his happiness over his relative’s new posting. He said, “He has done the Veeravalli family very proud.”
Sampath got married after becoming an IAS officer and has a son, employed in Hyderabad, and a daughter who lives in USA.
The Veeravalli family, from Chengadu village, had taken efforts to revive the ancient Vaikunta Vasan temple in the village, the consecration of which was held last month. It was expected that Sampath would visit the village on the occasion but he did not. “Though we have not seen him, he has put the village on the national map of fame,” was the remark from some of the residents of Chengadu.