With the rise of younger politicians in India’s political playground, Nisarg Kamdar profiles some of the players and gauges their skills on the field
The Indian National Congress’s youth battalion is led by Rahul Gandhi, though he seems to be perilously close to breaching the youth bulwark at 42 years. However, there are other popular politicians who are more youthful, namely Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia (a descendant of the Scindia dynasty and the present Union Minister of Power, a very crucial ministry considering the colossal power crisis pestering India). Other notable names are Jitin Prasada, Mausam Noor, Milind Deora, Priya Dutt and Navin Jindal – all descendants of families with a rich political heritage. Profiled here are young policymakers who have quickly and quietly made a name for themselves.
Sachin Pilot (age 35) is the present Minister of Corporate Affairs. He is the son of Rajesh Pilot, who was a Union Minister from 1991 to 1996.
When he was elected in 2009, he became the youngest Member of Parliament in the country. He is the first Union Minister to be commissioned as an officer of the Territorial Army, following in the footsteps of his father who had served as Squadron Leader in the Air Force before diving into politics. His father thus adopted the last name Pilot.
Sachin’s education is a BA from St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi, and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business, USA. In 2004 he married Sara, former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah’s daughter, deftly navigating heavy opposition from Sara’s family.
He stuck to his father’s tradition of holding an ‘Open House’ every morning where people from his constituency drop in to interact with him. One of his most pertinent qualities, as writer Aashti Bhartia notes in her novel Votes of Confidence, is his ‘self-conscious evenness’; Sachin speaks in the same tone and dialect in his constituency as he would in Delhi, giving him an air of credibility.
During his stint in the Ministry of Information Technology, he attempted to help non-English communities access mobile internet. He was aware of the fact that greater resources needed to be devoted to develope relevant content in local languages.
Sachin has stated that he wishes to make the Ministry of Corporate Affairs a more approachable ministry that facilitates and ‘reduces the cumbersome nature of the red tapism and the time lag that we have sometimes’.
Nationalist Congress Party
The two prominent youthful faces of the NCP, a party strongly rooted to Maharashtra, are Agatha Sangma and Supriya Sule. Supriya is the daughter of NCP head and Union Agricultural Minister Sharad Pawar while Agatha is the daughter of P.A. Sangma, a former Lok Sabha speaker and Chief Minister of Meghalaya, who recently lost to Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential elections.
Agatha Sangma (age 32) is the youngest MP in the 15th Lok Sabha.
Having completed her LLB from Pune University, she went to Nottingham University in the UK to complete her master’s degree in Environmental Management. At the age of 29 she became Minister of State for Rural Development, which made her the youngest minister in the 15th Council of Ministers. She planned to ‘incorporate environmental aspects and focus on vigilance in the work being done in rural areas’.
Her appointment was an important step in reintegrating the Northeast with the rest of the country. Conscious of the discrimination against people from the Northeast, Agatha delivered her speech in Hindi while wearing a traditional outfit which made a social and political statement.
The BJP’s youth connect is primarily through its youth wing, the All India Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which is its All India Student Council.
ANURAG SINGH THAKUR
Anurag Thakur (age 38) is a member of the Lok Sabha. He is the son of the present Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Prem Singh Dhumal.
Thakur, claims to have dropped his last name to pre-empt any accusations of dynastic politics. He became the President of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association at the age of 25. He is appreciated for enabling international matches to be played at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala, which is situated 1,457 m above sea level.
Anurag later became the President of the All India Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. He was an integral part of the controversial Tiranga Yatra which aimed to hoist the Indian flag at Lal Chowk, Srinagar. Anurag can converse with an industrialist and an activist in the same breath, which will hold him in good stead if we were to go by the adage – politics is the art of compromise.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) is today responsible for the governance of India’s most populous state – Uttar Pradesh. And it does become imperative for them to have youth representation in the party.
Akhilesh Yadav, the present Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, is the youngest CM of UP at 38 years. He is the son of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, himself a three-time CM and former Union Minister of Defence.
Akhilesh began his political journey in 2000 when he was elected to represent the Kannauj constituency in the Lok Sabha. He was later elected the Chief Minister of the state as a result of popular demand. His performance in office, though, has been underwhelming. The law and order maintenance seems to have deteriorated, the youthful exuberance is absent, the investment in the state is still lackadaisical and communal tensions seem to be rising.
Many sympathise with him as he is a youthful CM caught in a cabinet full of party loyalists with an inflated sense of ego he cannot afford to irk.
KALIKESH SINGH DEO (BJD)
Kalikesh represents the Bolangir constituency of Orissa and is the son of Ananga Udaya Singh Deo, a veteran politician.
Kalikesh, a graduate of St. Stephen’s College (New Delhi), was instrumental in starting the Legislative Assistance for Members of Parliament programme. It is an 11-month fellowship which gives the youth an opportunity to work with an MP, giving budding politicians a chance to acquaint themselves with the functioning of the parliamentary system.
Volume 2 Issue 7