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Advani, youth icon at 81?

delhi Updated: Feb 21, 2009 14:57 IST

He may be 81, but he is a serious contender for the status of a youth icon! Be it blogging or lifting weights in a gym to display his youthful prowess, LK Advani is trying everything to woo India’s 10 crore first-time voters and give Congress heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi a run for his money.

From Friday night, Advani may well become the talking point of youth across 5,000 colleges in India. For, BJP leader Arun Shourie is launching a campaign called Advani@campus at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on that night.

“He has the experience of 80 and the enthusiasm of 20,” says a pamphlet distributed in JNU. It takes up youth-centric concerns: job losses, price rise, narrowing educational opportunities, etc.

“Several hundred young campaigners would fan out to over 5,000 colleges and communicate Advaniji’s vision of young India,” says Prodyut Bora, IIM Ahmedabad graduate and convenor of the BJP’s IT cell. In order to ensure “consistency in communication”, the campaigners will use a common PowerPoint presentation in all the campuses visited.

Significantly, youth who are leaders in their fields will be sent to colleges pertaining to that field. For example, MBAs from top institutions will visit 1,600 business schools to interact with students, engineering graduates will interact with students in 717 engineering colleges, and young doctors will meet medical students in 290 medical colleges.

This is being done to ensure instant connect with the target audience, besides limited Rahul Gandhi’s campaign.

The BJP’s calculation is that 15 per cent of India’s 60-70 crore voters are first-timers, and approaching them can make a difference in the poll outcome. The party also believes that these first-timers are less sure about their political ideas and can be easily influenced. Moreover, catching them young will not only ensure votes, but also help in building a steady base of future sympathisers.