JNU scholar to debut in UP polls

It was his "Lucknow connect" that made Harsh Vardhan Shyam, 32, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's chosen candidate from the Mohanlalganj constituency. Rajeev Mullick reports.
Hindustan Times | By Rajeev Mullick, Lucknow
UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2012 12:16 AM IST

It was his “Lucknow connect” that made Harsh Vardhan Shyam, 32, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s chosen candidate from the Mohanlalganj constituency.

Barely 20 km from Lucknow, Mohanlalganj used to be a Congress stronghold till 1995. Today, RK Chaudhary, 52, from the Rashtriya Swabhiman Party is the sitting MLA. He has won the last three assembly polls.

In this scenario, Shyam’s candidature is perceived as an attempt by the Congress to recover lost ground.

Says Shyam talking about his association with Gandhi, “I met him in 2009 at Ambedkar Nagar. All those who were contesting the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) elections had gathered there. I asked him a few questions and his response inspired me a lot.”

The next thing he knew, he was the IYC programme coordinator of JNU.

In Mohanlalganj too, the Congress is banking on the youth factor. Says Shyam, “My team comprising mainly friends from school days has helped me strike a direct connect with the youth here.”

While he has qualifications galore — Economics honours from Delhi’s Shri Ram College of Commerce, MA from the Delhi School of Economics, MPhil from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and a doctoral thesis on the verge of completion — this is Shyam’s first go at the assembly polls.

However, Shyam is quick to dismiss all talk of him being a political novice, and claims his thesis on the changing dynamics of politics in UP was chosen to help him know his karmabhoomi better.

Says state Congress spokesperson Ram Kumar Bhargav, “Congress has always backed youth...We zeroed in on Harsh after much deliberation.”

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