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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Cong mulls reservation for youth in party tickets

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 30, 2014
First Published: 00:46 IST(30/1/2014) | Last Updated: 10:11 IST(30/1/2014)

It might just get easier for a young politician to get a Lok Sabha ticket from the grand old party, the Congress. The party is mulling a reservation for youth while selecting candidates for the upcoming polls.

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Top sources told HT that the Congress election strategists, led by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, are considering a formula “fifty below fifty” to field candidates aged below 50 in 50% percent of the seats where the party will contest.

The idea is aimed to introduce a large number of fresh faces as the party battles a high anti-incumbency factor. The Congress strategists feel that the step can also impress a large section of the young electorate. The latest Census figures reveal that 31.3% of India’s population falls between 18-35 years of age.

Finance minister P Chidambaram has already publicly advocated for reserving 50% seats to youth. “I have a radical idea. I believe that at least in one half of parliament seats, the Congress party must field candidates below the age of 35 years,” he said at the January 17 All India Congress Committee meeting.

While Chidambaram, defence minister AK Antony and commerce minister Anand Sharma are believed to be in favour the plan, some other strategists have pointed out that the preliminary internal surveys to identify 2014 Lok Sabha candidates have already taken place and it did not account into this criteria.

Gandhi, in his interview to Times Now, he had remarked, “(India) needs to give youngsters democratic powers. It is about opening the doors of the congress party, about empowering the youth.”

Last year, at a rally in Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi had said, “In 2014, a government of the youth will be formed” triggering speculations that he prefers more young candidates.

Earlier, he had experimented by giving tickets to young candidates in seats where the Congress been losing elections for a long time. The experiment led to the victory of MPs like Meenakshi Natarajan and Ashok Tanwar.

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