Eager for a clean break with the past, students across Uttar Pradesh say they want development, a corruption-free environment, non-sectarian politics and a greater say for young politicians. The views came to the fore at separate interactions with students of various institutes across the state during HT Campus Adda. Team HT reports:
Lucknow scoffs at unrealistic promises
Students of the Modern Girls' College of Professional Studies feel Rahul Gandhi of Congress is the voice of the youth. Unrealistic promises cut no ice with them. Of the 140 girls HT interacted with, 102 backed the Congress. They felt it would offer better education opportunities and ensure all-round development of the state.
Development, jobs, priorities in Kanpur
Students at the College of Management Studies said infrastructure development is the only way to revive the fortunes of the state. "We want development and jobs," said Ravish Kumar Sharma. But who will bring the change? Opinion is divided between Rahul Gandhi of Congress and SP's Akhilesh Yadav. Many felt the Congress's election manifesto was more realistic than that of the other parties. "The Congress promises 20 lakh jobs in the next five years. The others are ready to distribute pre-poll lollypops with taxpayers's money," said Rekha Shukla. The BJP got a clear thumbs-down. "We want development, a corruption-free environment and more job opportunities, not a temple," said Nirvesh Mehrotra, a final-year student.
Earthy issues matter in Meerut
Most of the 200 students HT interacted with at Mawana's Laxmi Devi Arya Kanya Degree College said inflation, corruption, deteriorating law and order situation, unemployment and issues related to farmers would decide the fate of the contestants. A majority of students are farmers' children. "Farmers are under tremendous pressure but political parties are paying lip service to their cause," said Nilima Dixit.
Allahabad wants retirement age for netas
Many of the first-time voters in Motilal Nehru Institute of Research and Business Administration spoke about a retirement age for politicians. "If the governed have a retirement age, why not adopt the same criterion for those who govern?" asked Rakesh Singh.
Gorakhpur advocates test for politicians
The budding software engineers of Madan Mohan Malviya Engineering College demanded an aptitude test for politicians and said there should be a limit on the number of times a candidate could contest. Those in the fray to secure their own future should not be elected, they added. "Politicians are like 'Barsati Medhak' (seasonal frogs). They make promises during polls and disappear afterwards," said Anubhuti Agrawal, a student. The youngsters felt caste-based reservation only encouraged discrimination. "Jobs should be reserved only for the financially weaker sections, irrespective of their caste or religion," said Vinay Kumar.
Kashi dreams of Manipur turnout
A group of 200 students at Ashoka Institute of Technology and Management want to see Uttar Pradesh match the 82% turnout of Manipur. They also advocated a greater say for young politicians at the Centre and the states. Maintaining that education was an issue neglected by most politicians, they demanded an initiative to open more technical schools and colleges. The students also suggested standardisation of education across rural and urban areas. "Rural students lack even the basic educational facilities," said Dhiraj Maurya.
Agra prefers national parties
The issue of change raised by Rahul Gandhi was a talking point, but some doubted his ability to deliver at the Jagdamba Degree College and the Social Science Department of Dayalbagh. Despite anti-incumbency, a section of students appreciated chief minister Mayawati's control over the law and order situation. Some preferred national parties like the BJP and the Congress, but said it was unfortunate that they had no strong state leaders.