Modi mantra hurt prospects of young MPs from State

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Bangalore: For a State which boasts of 25 per cent of young voters, the representation of young parlimentarians from Karnataka in the 16th Lok Sabha is abysmal.

Despite a registered voting population of 1.12 crore between the age of 18 and 29 years, the average age of 28 MPs from the State is 54 years.

However, Narendra Modi wave swept away even these young voters in favour of BJP. And this, despite lack of young representatives to connect with them on the ground.

For young voters like Rashmi Mavinkere (29), the age factor did play on their minds as they are able to connect with a younger representative than those who are older.

“But in this election, perhaps it was more of Narendra Modi which played on my mind rather than age. But yes, any other election, a youngster would have made a difference as I believe that they can perform better,” she said.

Of the 28 elected representatives from Karnataka, only one MP, who has been elected from the State, is below the age of 40. Another eight candidates who were elected are in the age group of 40 to 50 years. The rest 19 MPs are above 50 years.

While the BJP built its campaign on the platform of empowering the youth, it fielded three candidates below the age of 40. The Congress, which had tried to project Rahul Gandhi as its youth face, fielded four, while the JD(S) none.

The AAP was the only party which experimented with nine candidates below the age of 40. Of course, none of AAP candidate won. Political scientists believe that the idea of fielding at least 16 youngsters in the election, no matter victory or loss, shows that the dynamics of elections is aligning towards youthful representation.

“We are at least seeing an effort from the political parties to bring in young faces. The age group of eight MPs within the age group of 40 and 50 is better than our previously elected MPs,” said Bangalore University Political Science Professor M J Vinod. He said political parties, especially those like AAP, have brought a fresh change in the ground realities of the election in the State by fielding so many candidates below 40.

Political experience, coupled with infighting in various party camps, washed out almost all candidates below the age of 40.

But thanks to the Modi wave, the only exception in this case was the surprise victory of BJP candidate Pratap Simha who was elected from Mysore.

Aged 37, Simha also has the unique distinction of being the youngest candidate elected from Karnataka this election. The next youngest candidate who is representing Karnataka is BJP MP from Bellary B Sriramulu, aged 43.

Two sitting MPs, who were aged below 40 when they were elected in 2009, J Shanta (40) and B Y Raghavendra (41), were not given tickets by the BJP.

While the Congress fielded two youngsters – Ramya (31) and Rizwan Arshad (34), none of those below 40 won. The party’s youngest candidate from the State is D K Suresh (47) who won from Bangalore Rural.

The JD(S) has the distinction of electing the oldest candidate from the State, H D Deve Gowda (81).

Vinod believed that at least this time, those who are elected in the age group of 40 to 50 years may bring a change in the working culture and ensure that there is no more absentee leadership which has been the case in the older generation of public representatives.

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