Uttarakhand: Parties bank on veterans, fail to tap youth power for campaigns | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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Uttarakhand: Parties bank on veterans, fail to tap youth power for campaigns

Despite youths forming a massive 57% of the vote base in Uttarakhand that goes to polls in barely a month’s time, the parties have failed to project youngsters prominently in their campaigns.

dehradun Updated: Jan 10, 2017 19:37 IST
Neha Pant
First-time voters show their voter cards in Dehradun.
First-time voters show their voter cards in Dehradun. (Vinay Santosh Kumar/HT Photo)

Despite youths forming a massive 57% of the vote base in Uttarakhand that goes to polls in barely a month’s time, the parties have failed to project youngsters prominently in their campaigns.

While youth and student wings of both BJP and the Congress are working on ground to draw support for their parent outfits, the parties largely rely on senior netas, all aged above 50, when it comes to campaigning to connect with the electorate.

This is despite the fact that more than 57% of the total 74.95 lakh electorate falls under the age bracket of 18-39 years, including over 2.5 lakh first-time voters who will decide the fate of the parties in the forthcoming polls.

The ‘star faces’ of Congress in Uttarakhand include veterans like chief minister Harish Rawat (69), senior ministers like Indira Hridayesh (75), Yashpal Arya (65) and Pritam Singh (58). Similar is the case with BJP, the hotshots of which include four former chief ministers, namely Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri (82), Bhagat Singh Koshyari (74), Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (57) and Vijay Bahuguna (69).

“It’s not that parties don’t have youth leaders, but senior netas kind of overshadow them when it comes to taking the centre stage,” said a youth leader of BJP, who did not wish to be named.

On being asked about the dominance of ‘veteran’ leaders in the party’s ace campaigners, BJP spokesperson Vinay Goyal said that the party will soon rope in youth leaders from the state to connect with voters in the below 40 age bracket.

“Youngsters have been a core support base for us, which led us into winning all the five parliamentary seats (in 2014 general elections) in Uttarakhand. We have started holding gatherings for first-time voters through our youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and will soon field young faces to campaign for the party in a big way,” Goyal said, adding that the BJP recently launched a toll-free number to ‘connect’ with the first-time and youth voters.

Congress chief spokesperson Mathura Dutt Joshi, on the other hand, said that the party-led state government undertook various measures for the welfare of youth, which it will play up prominently during the next one month to reach out to the youth voters. “Youngsters form a sizeable section of the state Congress’ organisation and we will certainly involve youths in our campaigns prominently,” Joshi said. He added that an outreach programme, CM4Youth, has been working to connect the youngsters with CM Harish Rawat and the party’s ideologies.