With 43% votes, youth hold key in Himachal Pradesh polls but get only assurances
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With 43% votes, youth hold key in Himachal Pradesh polls but get only assurances

The BJP and Congress, however, have over two dozen candidates above the age of 60

india Updated: Oct 25, 2017 18:53 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
Saurabh Chauhan
Hindustan Times, Shimla
HP polls,Himachal polls,Himachal elections
BJP and Congress have fielded 10 candidates below the age of 40.(HT Representation)

With 43% vote share, youth holds the key to the election outcome in Himachal but political parties in the state are less than willing to field young candidates in the electoral fray.

The two major parties—BJP and Congress—have fielded only 10 candidates below the age of 40 even as the majority of voters fall in the age group of 18-39 years. Out of this, the Congress has given tickets to six youth candidates while the BJP has fielded four candidates below the age of 40.

The third front—Communist Party of India, which is contesting on 14 seats is fielding three candidates below the age of 40. The BJP and Congress, however, have over two dozen candidates above the age of 60.

Interestingly, both the parties have youth wings besides their student organisations. While the RSS’ student-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) disassociates itself from the BJP, the National Student Union of India (NSUI) openly supports Congress. Nearly, two dozen people who are in the poll fray this time are those who have served as student leaders in the ABVP, NSUI and SFI in their college years. Almost all CPM candidates are from SFI background.

But when it comes to ticket distribution, senior leaders with a lot of experience are given preference. “Many factors are considered during ticket distribution. Your hard work in the student and youth organisation is of no use,” said a BJP youth leader, requesting anonymity.

No tickets but youth issues figure in all speeches

Interesting enough, youth issues figure prominently in the speeches of all political parties. To entice youth voters, the government has been promising jobs. With time, the scope of a government job also keeps shrinking and political parties change their assurances.

In 2012, the Congress had promised unemployment allowance while the BJP assured jobs. After the Congress came into power in the state, it announced a skill-development allowance instead unemployment allowance. Earlier this year, the Congress government announced unemployment allowance with some riders.

The BJP too has been raising the issue of implementation of pre-poll promises regarding youth.

“All parties promise many things before elections but once they come to power, they forgets about the youth. The youth is on the mind of politicians during elections only,” says Harish Verma, a research scholar at Himachal Pradesh University.

The ruling Congress in the state claims that it has given employment to more than 25,000 youths while the BJP contradicted the claim.

EC mobilising young voters

The youth is not only on the radar of political parties but the election commission also has been mobilising them to increase the voter turnout. Himachal has over 49 lakh registered voters including nearly 25 lakh men and over 24 lakh women voters.

Around 43% votes fall in the cohort of 18-39 years. Under Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) plan, monitored by state election commission, the district administrations have put in all efforts to mobilise youth to exercise their franchise to vote.

First Published: Oct 25, 2017 18:47 IST