Restless and raring to serve: Meet the young candidates in MCD electionsMCD Elections 2017 Updated: Jun 17, 2017 20:58 IST
AAP candidate Abhinav Mishra during his election campaign in Rohini Sector 15. Several candidates in the April 23 municipal elections are under 25 years of age. (Ravi Choudhary/HT Photo)
Politics was once a career reserved for the “wise, old men”. This year’s civic body elections, however, show a promising trend, with most large political parties nominating young adults under the age of 25 years on many seats.
Hindustan Times spoke to some of the youngest candidates from Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, and Swaraj India, to find out more about what they stand for. Will they prove to be the bastion of change that the common man hopes for? Or will they just be younger blood in older ideological bottles?
The new kids on the block may lack political exposure, but they are anything but nervous. Wearing a white kurta, jeans and boots, Poorva Sankla, the candidate from Raghubir Nagar, leaves no doubt that she is contesting as a BJP nominee. The 22 year old ex-software engineer is clad in party merchandise, and walks into the room with a confidence that one would not expect of a newbie. Sankla said she thinks of her age an advantage more than anything else.
“My area has buildings with as many as five floors and they usually do not have elevators. As we are doing door-to-door campaigning, it helps that I am young and fit. Someone older may not be able to climb all those stairs,” she said.
The Congress candidate from Pratap Nagar, Himanshu Pahuja, also has the air of a seasoned leader about him. Wearing a white kurta and pyajama, the businessman seems to have garnered some popularity in his area; something not many 23 year olds can boast of.
“When I was 18, I was the youngest elected assembly president of the Youth Congress in Delhi in 2012. So I have been active since then,” he said.
“If the leader is older, say 50,60 or 70; people hesitate in approaching him (or her). We are young ‘kids.’ (Older people) toh hamaare kaan pakad ke bhi humse kaam karwa sakte hain. They can correct us if we are wrong,” he said, while explaining how his voters tend to trust him because of his age.
Kajal Sharma, the 21-year-old Swaraj India candidate contesting from Rani Bagh, has her own support system within her locality too.
“When Kajal had to present the documents needed to get the party’s nomination, she was able to single handedly get 350 signatories to pledge their support to her,” said Bhuwan Gaud, Sharma’s beaming father.
Sharma, Sankla, and Pahuja may not have political godfathers, but they do have political fathers. Sharma’s father, Gaud, currently serves as Swaraj India’s district secretary for Trinagar, Shakur Basti and Sadar Bazar. Sankla and Pahuja both claim that their fathers are not political leaders, but that they have both “volunteered” for their respective parties. Pahuja’s father has admittedly served as the president of RWAs, market unions and temple committees.
“It is true that you do not have to teach a fish’s daughter to swim. But, I have reached where I am, because of my own capabilities and my hard work,” said Sharma, echoing her fellow contenders.
Leena Asiwal, the 21 year old AAP candidate from Vikaspuri who is a final year English (Hons) student at Delhi University’s School of Open Learning, also got involved in politics because of her father. “My father is the Vikaspuri Vidhan Sabha President for AAP. I started out by helping him out. I helped him set up around 41 jet pumps in Krishna Colony,” she said.
The AAP candidate from Rohini Sector-15, Abhinav Mishra, claims that his family has had nothing to do with politics. “My father is the chief editor in the central government-run Lalit Kala Akademi, and my brother is a lecturer in Dyal Singh College... I got into politics through the social work we used to do,” said the 24-year-old mechanical engineer, who has worked with automobile companies before joining AAP.
Since then he has worked with AAP in Goa and Punjab, and has also served as the AAP social media coordinator.
Will these youngsters help change the system, or end up as a cog in the machine? “Experience does not come with age, it comes with work. I have worked with ABVP. I have also done some social work, and I am sure I can work for the betterment of society. I was grown up here. I know what the problems are,” said Sankla, while adding that education is going to be an area of focus for her.
Mishra and Asiwal, on the other hand, hope to clean up his neighbourhood. Mishra, on the other hand, hopes to clean up his neighbourhood. Sharma hopes to build a two-tier parking lot in the area to ease the parking woes and help generate revenue. Pahuja hopes to install smaller “booths” within each micro-locality to address the resident’s grievances so that they would not have to travel all the way to the councillor’s office to submit their complaints.
However, systemic change is what most are gunning for. “Any political party’s ideology is not wrong, be it the BJP, Congress or AAP. The ideology and manifesto are usually good. The problem is with implementation. Young blood will be able to focus on implementation,” said Mishra.
“The experienced are corrupt. The youth may be inexperienced, but they will be inexperienced in the matters of corruption too. They will be able to work with more energy,” said Asiwal.