If one were to discount a few political family connections, the trend of youngsters trying to leave an imprint in the “dirty game” of politics could be seen across parties. And the debutante politicians are full of promises.
Take DMK, the mother of all Dravidian parties, from which most others branched out and which first tapped the power of youth to unseat the Congress in 1967. The party led by its patriarch M Karunanidhi has fielded over 30 advocates, half a dozen medical practitioners and a similar number of PhD scholars. At least two of its new comers, Madurai Central candidate PRTP Thiyagarajan, an engineer-turned-investment banker and Thanjavur candidate Anjugam Boopathy, a practising gynaecologist, have more than convincingly been drawing media and public attention, leave alone their chances at the hustings. The grandson of former chief minister of Madras Presidency and son of former Speaker PTR Palanivel Rajan is preparing an exclusive manifesto for his Madurai Central constituency. He has employed some ten people, including a couple of professors, municipal councillors and doctors to study the requirements of his voters. Highly confident of victory, a humble Thiagarajan who spent around two decades in the US says; “I am not taking chances. My IQ and political knowledge is no way near my father. But I am technically sound. I have a long term vision for my constituency.”
Elsewhere in a relatively backward Kunnam constituency in Perambalur, 33-year-old Aloor Shanavas of VCK rubbishes those from the “I-hate-politics” school of thought and said the heirs take over only when others distance from politics. “I come from an ordinary middle class family. I do not have the financial backing, but how did I become a deputy general secretary of VCK at 30?” wonders Navas, a diploma holder in journalism, who has collected Rs 6 lakh from voters ever since he was declared candidate.
“Others give money to voters. I collect money from voters. I emulate the Communist economic policy and Periyar’s political ideology. There is politics in everything we do. One cannot distance from it. Irregularities abound in all departments. Do students stop pursuing law or MBBS just because there are some bad lawyers and doctors? If youngsters continue to abstain from politics, only the heirs will succeed,” said Navas who started his political journey at 13 years, campaigning for his relative (DMK) in panchayat election in 1996, courtesy his Tamil oratory at that young age.
Echoing a similar view, DMK’s Thanjavur candidate Anjugam Boopathy expresses confidence that she would resist all pulls and pressures if sent to the Assembly.
The 28-year-old gynaecologist who quit her assistant professor’s job in Thanjavur government medical college hospital confidently added; “Of every 100 students, 95 hate politics and only the remaining 5 per cent like it. I belong to the five per cent. I have taken the plunge. I am young and I have the same anger as other youngsters who hate politics. But I have chosen politics to usher in a change. I can resist the pressures. When I make a promise, people will believe me.”
Like them, most young and educated debutants of the May 16 election this paper interacted with believe that not all is lost (in politics) and the mantra “change and transparency” can usher in change. That said; even septuagenarian Vasanthi Devi, the common candidate fielded by DMDK-PWF-TMC alliance against AIADMK’s Jayalalithaa in RK Nagar will fit the bill, for, she is also a newcomer to electoral politics, and she strikes a chord with the rest by chanting the mantra of change.