They are young, but not brash. Inexperienced, but eager to learn. They are in a hurry, but are not cutting corners. The new crop of young MPs in the Lok Sabha want to earn their stripes, not depend on their lucks for it.
Meet the Batch of 2009.
“There is so much to do,” gushes Muhammed Hamdulla A.B Sayeed. “Five years will fly away.” At 27, he doesn’t really need to worry about the coming five years. But he does, not willing to take his legacy for granted. He is late Congress leader P.M.Sayeed’s son.
“I want to make my mark as a serious MP… and not one who shouts and creates disruption,” BJP’s Nishikant Dubey (40) said, who always does his homework before coming to the House.
There are 306 new MPs in this Lok Sabha — a mix of young and old (of them, exactly half —153 —have criminal charges against them). Each first-timer is competing against the rest to be heard and noticed.
The new brief for first-timers is not the same as the old one, which required them to shout, heckle and go home. This batch wants to participate in debates, ask questions and raise issues in the House.
Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo (35), Jyoti Mirdha (37), Ijyaraj Singh (44), Jayant Chaudhary (30) and Anurag Singh Thakur (34) are first-timers from well-known political families but different parties—the BJD, Congress, RLD and BJP respectively.
They have joined hands to rope in about 10 final-year law graduates, who are part of their research pool. On Tuesday, they had three of these students watching the proceedings.
Manish Tewari (43), the articulate Congress spokesman and MP, takes his job very seriously, and can be seen taking copious notes throughout Parliament session. He, of course, can’t be caught fumbling for words when going live on TV news.
Jitendra Singh (38) and Ashok Tanwar (33), who have party responsibilities to go with their day job as Lok Sabha MPs, can be found discussing among other things Rahul Gandhi’s plans for the Youth Congress.
Even the second-term MPs have the “I mean it” attitude. Deepinder Singh Hooda (31) was seen rushing to make it inside the House, recently, so as not to miss the debate.
And you can never find Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav (36) lounging about the Central Hall (a place between the two Houses and a popular hub for MPs to interact.
Sachin Pilot (31), another second-term MP, is also a minister. But is equally keen on his political work: bridging the Gujjar-Meena caste divide that brought Rajasthan to a boil about two years back after the Gujjars’ demanded reservation.
“We still have bitter and sad memories of what happened two and a half years back ...,” he said at a political rally
recently, adding, “but we have to move forward...”
And then there is the Congress’ Shruti Chaudhary (33), who is content just listening and learning. “I want to see, absorb and imbibe. I don’t want to speak for the sake of speaking,” she said.
She better not. Not only was the entire nation watching, more importantly for her and others like her, their party leaders were keeping an eye on them.
During this session, Sonia Gandhi (62) twice warned MPs against poor attendance and recently pulled up her party convenors for failing to do their job of rallying MPs to the House.
And on the BJP side there is the deputy Leader of the party in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj (57), who has told the freshers very clearly they should build their careers on debates and good speeches, not lung power. They are listening, carefully.