In yet another shift in political demographics, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is likely to give Delhi fresh faces in a fairly young cabinet.
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal is greeted by supporters as he arrives at a public meeting in New Delhi. (AFP photo)
While outgoing Congress ministers have an average age of 63, AAP candidates tipped to be ministers will be, on an average, 35-years-old. In the past, Congress’ Arvinder Singh was the youngest minister to join the cabinet in 2003 at the age of 35.
Apart from 41-year-old Manish Sisodia, who is considered to be the closest aide of AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, all cabinet front-runners are relatively unknown faces.
“The popularity of ministers is not important. We want a healthy relationship between the party and the government. The idea is to put in place a mechanism that can efficiently implement our manifesto,” said AAP’s chief strategist, Yogendra Yadav.
Yadav said the road ahead will be challenging since most candidates are first-time ministers. “Since we are running a radical agenda, we want to ensure that we bring in people who share our political spirit and understand government procedures,” he said.
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One such candidate is 26-year-old Rakhi Birlaan who has no political experience. With a masters degree in journalism, she used to work as a TV journalist before she joined the anti-corruption bandwagon. A few months later, she won the assembly elections from Mangolpuri after defeating Congress’ Raj Kumar Chauhan by a margin of 10,585 votes.
“It’s a generational shift if you compare us with the average BJP and Congress leader. Young profile benefitted me and the party as a whole,” Birlaan recently told HT.
Saurabh Bhardwaj (34), an engineer who hold a degree in law, defeated BJP’s Ajay Kumar Malhotra by more than 13,000 votes in Greater Kailash. Bhardwaj, who works with a private engineering firm and enjoys social connect, may be another new face among Delhi ministers.
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“Angry people voted against price rise and corruption. People were not satisfied with Waliaji because he never listened to their grievances,” said 40-year-old AAP member Vinod Kumar Binny. He defeated Congress minister AK Walia from Laxmi Nagar and has also been elected as an independent councillor twice.
Another start achiever is 39-year-old Somnath Bharti. He holds a degree in law and a masters degree in science from IIT-Delhi. The former president of IIT-Delhi’s alumni association defeated two political heavyweights in Malviya Nagar — BJP’s Arti Mehra and Kiran Walia of Congress.