Lok Sabha elections 2019: Young contenders lock horns in poll arena

Politics is no longer the domain of the archetypal, dyed-in-the-wool ‘neta.’ It has evolved and attracting young professionals, doctors, engineers even journalists, who are determined to make a difference even if it requires chucking their well-heeled career or job. And like a breath of fresh air, their entry into the poll arena has added some colour, verve and festivity to an otherwise lacklustre 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Politics, say the elders in the profession, is no child’s play. No wonder, the average Indian lawmaker is 65 – in a country where more than 50% of its population constitutes youths in the age group of 25-30 years.

Each new Lok Sabha, according to a report by the PRS Legislative Research, is getting older every election since independence.

Only 2.2% (or around 10 out of the total 543) in the existing 16th Lok Sabha MPs are below the age of 30. Though transformations do not happen overnight, the enthusiasm and predilection of the new breed of entrants taking part in the battle for ballots augur well for a profession where leaders are born overnight and veterans dealt sudden death.

Gradually but surely the old order seems to be yielding place to the new at least in the country’s most populated state – Uttar Pradesh.

The move was also reflected in BJP’s decision not to field anyone above 75 years in this election despite the angry howl of protest both within and outside the party ranks. “We witnessed a generational shift in 2012 when Mulayam Singh Yadav decided to hand over the baton to his son Akhilesh Yadav and made him the chief minister despite resistance from rank and file in the party,” says Professor Yashbir Tyagi.

Still a numero uno in the party, BSP supremo Mayawati too has started introducing her brother Anand and nephew Akash Anand, to party workers as two leaders who may play a significant role in the party in future. She introduced her nephew to SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav at the historic rally in Mainpuri recently where the two political arch rivals shared the platform for the first time burying the hatchet after 25 years.

The trend seems to be catching on. Critics, however, warn that this development where more and more siblings and members of political families are taking the plunge is nothing but the perpetuation of dynastic politics.

“I don’t see anything wrong in nurturing a younger set of leaders. If a film star’s son can become an actor, why not that of a politician. Perhaps they were lucky in that they were able to cut their teeth early in politics,” says Athar Hussein of the Centre for Objective Research and Development.

“If politics has become a career option then like all other vocations, it needs skilled and qualified professionals at the helm who can deliver good governance. The competition has to be stiff and only the best should be chosen to lead only then we will see things improve,” says Iqtedar Farooqui, a retired scientist.

First Published:
May 15, 2019 13:55 IST

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