Interesting changes in agenda mark the functioning of a new political outfit. PAROMITA PAIN
The Tamil Nadu Youth and Students Association party, started in 2004, is a young political outfit with an interesting agenda: something most talk about but few actually put on the manifesto. They want a retirement age for politicians and more accountability to the electors. Now it’s easy to ask, what good will that do when issues of unemployment and poverty seem far more important. Thomas, one of the founding members, explains, “We believe that, after 65, politicians must have a more advisory role in the party. They can be involved in decision-making but young people must get a chance. Aging doesn’t make people incompetent; it just slows them down. Look at our political parties today. No wonder the youth feel discriminated against. Political parties use youth power. Whether it’s distributing posters or rallying people together, work is done by youth. But we don’t get tickets to contest.”
This is also another reason why they can’t align themselves with a larger political party. They stand for accountability in politics. “When a person is elected he needs to be accountable to those who elected him. The primary duty is to the people not the party. We believe in bringing about legislation in which people who aren’t happy with their elected representative have the power to recall them back,” asserts Thomas. They believe in electoral reforms that will ensure that youth power is harnessed to do its best. “Those who don’t vote are usually those who are educated and middle class people. “We plan to bring about legislation to explain that their vote counts. We want education to be made compulsory. Urban development must spread to the rural areas. People must know that in a welfare state they will get as much state benefit as any other,” he says outlining the party agenda. Their campaigning policies are also thereby different.
Anu George Canjanathoppil, 24, lawyer and teacher in Bangalore, is an active campaigner. She says, “Our campaigns are simple and green. We believe in hitting the streets but we don’t believe in disrupting traffic or being a public nuisance by organising rallies or adding to the pollution by having speeches on loud speakers. We use street plays that we write and direct, enacted by students and groups dealing with extreme social stigma. These are aired on YouTube as well. SMS, blogging and community sites are also our forte. Trust me, this is a revolution worth being a part of!” Their rallies are silent ones whose sloganeering isn’t designed to burst ear drums. It may seem like many moons ago but wasn’t Lokparitran something like them? “We are older than them. We don’t intend making the same mistakes,” they chorus.
Believe in rights
So what motivates people like Anu to participate? “More than motivated, I would say I was provoked to join them because of what they stand for. I believe in the rights and duties provided by the Constitution of India. I form the majority of 55 per cent of youngsters in the country and I believe have a say,” she signs off.
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