Zee Research Group
For all the talk of first time voters setting the political agenda during 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress has cold shouldered young candidates opting for experience.
A Zee Research Group (ZRG) study of party’s list of candidates for first four phases of elections covering 111 parliamentary constituencies shows the average age of contestants to be about 55.
The election schedule kicked off on April 7 and the fourth phase poll would be held on April 12. The third phase poll covering 91 seats including seven in Delhi is due tomorrow.
A month ago, while interacting with tribal youth at an engineering college in Shirpur, Rahul Gandhi, a youth icon of Congress party said, “My request to you, especially tribal youth, is to join mainstream politics.” “My message to the country’s youth is that the talent and capability the youth here have is not there anywhere else,” the Congress leader added.
However, the ground situation is different as ZRG study reveals that the average age of 93 candidates fielded by the ruling party for the first four poll phases is 54.8 years. Some prominent faces from old boys’ club are: 72 year old former Chief Minister of Odisha, Hemanand Biswal who has been given ticket from Odisha. Similarly, 82 year old former Union Minister of Mines, Bijoy Krishna Handique and 72 year old former Governor of Kerala, Nikhil Kumar are selected as nominees from Assam and Bihar respectively.
India has a large, young and dynamic population: 65 per cent of its population is 35 or under, and half the country`s population is under the age of 25. Further, close to 15 crore youths are eligible to vote for the first time in the ongoing elections.
The ZRG analysis has fixed candidates below the age of 51 as young in politics. Out of the 93 candidates fielded by the Congress, just 33 are youth (35.5 per cent) and the average age of these candidates is nearly 40.
As per state-wise list of young candidates nominated for the first four phases of the ongoing polls, maximum four candidates each have been fielded from Haryana, Kerela, Assam (trio). The trio is closely being followed by Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha where the party has nominated three candidates each.
Not ignoring the importance of UP which represents 80 out of the 543 members of Lok Sabha, the party has fielded some prominent young candidates from there. For instance, 43 year old actress Nagma has been made the candidate from Meerut. Similarly, Imran Masood (43 year old) who was arrested over a hate speech against BJP`s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is the Lok Sabha candidate from Saharanpur.
Other prominent young candidates who are given tickets by the party for the first four phases include: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi`s son Gaurav Gogoi (from Assam), Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s son Deepender Singh Hooda (Rohtak), former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit’s son Sandeep Dikshit (East Delhi).