Young voter numbers gallop, but parties refuse to come of age

Winnability, not dynamism, criterion for candidate selection in State

Young voter numbers gallop, but parties refuse to come of age

With close to 300 million (30 crore) voters likely to be aged between 18 and 30 years (as per Census 2011) in these elections, it is but natural to expect that the country will see the rise of young and dynamic leaders.

But with winnability and political power being the criteria, most parties appear to have given tickets to ‘bankable’ candidates in the country.

At first look, Karnataka appears to be better than most other states with the average age of the candidates being 32 years. However, the hope vanishes fast when one looks at the age of candidates of major parties.

While the Congress has fielded four candidates below the age of 40 years, the BJP has three and the JD(S) none. But the more youth-oriented party appears to be the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). It has fielded nine candidates aged below 40.

The youngest candidate among all the four parties, however, is Ramya, cine actress and sitting MP from Mandya, at 31 years.

She is followed by Youth Congress president Rizwan Arshad, 34, (Congress candidate in Bangalore Central), Prashanth Deshpande, 37, (Congress candidate in Uttara Kannada) and Lakshmi Hebbalkar, 39, (Congress candidate in Belgaum).

The under-40 club of the BJP comprises P Muniraju, 35, from Bangalore Rural, columnist Prathap Simha, Mysore, and Shivanagouda Naik from Raichur, both aged 37. The youngest candidate in the JD(S) is K Kesava from Kolar, at 42 years.

The party also has the unique distinction of fielding a former prime minister in H D Deve Gowda in Hassan. Gowda, at 81 years, is also the oldest in the fray from the State. He has said that this will be his last election. Perhaps, the biggest failure of the parties appears to be in having fielded aged candidates from Bangalore.

A whopping 41.35 lakh voters in the three constituencies of Bangalore City are below the age of 40 years, as per the Election Commission numbers. But only one candidate is aged below 40, Arshad in Bangalore Central. All other candidates from the four major parties have completed 50 years. 

In Bangalore North, candidates of all four parties are aged above 60 (Naraya- naswamy of Congress at 65, AAP candidate Babu Mathew at 64 and BJP nominee D V Sadananda Gowda  at 61).

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