Youth Power! New Coalition and New Candidates for Lok Sabha 2019
Opposition youth wings come together
NEW DELHI: In what could be a significant development, the youth wings of Opposition political parties have decided to come together under the overarching ‘mahagathbandhan’ unity to fight for the rights and concerns of young Indians.
Two meetings have been held by the youth wings of the Congress, the Left parties, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Muslim League, and National Congress Party to work out a program of action. The DMK and other political parties have also been approached to join the emerging coalition.
Indian Youth Congress spokesperson Amrish Ranjan Pandey told The Citizen that the focus will be on unemployment, as well as price rise, farmers' issues, gender justice, and all that concerns the young of India. He said that a joint rally was also on the cards.
Opposition parties' youth wings have been fairly inactive for long, with the Youth Congress slumbering for some years now. The lumpen armies of unemployed youth being used by the BJP and its affiliates for their agenda have acted as a wake up call for the Opposition which is now trying to give its youth agenda a shape.
Significantly, some of the younger leaders who emerged in the last four years in the states are planning to contest parliamentary elections. Alpesh Thakor who had joined the Congress and contested the Gujarat elections is looking at the Lok Sabha. As is Jignesh Mevani who won the Gujarat polls as well, from a Congress seat though as an Indepedent. Hardik Patel also from Gujarat is now of age, and currently on a fast for the rights of the Patidar community. He is also expected to contest for the Lok Sabha, probably as an Independent with Congress support. Kanhaiya Kumar, of JNU, is expected to fight from Bihar as a CPI candidate with the support of the RJD coalition there. Shehla Rashid’s name is also on the cards as a candidate from Jammu and Kashmir on the National Conference's rolls.
Interestingly, this accompanies a change of guard in most Opposition parties with the younger leaders taking over. Tejaswi Yadav has replaced Lalu Yadav as the active face of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Akhilesh Yadav has taken over the Samajwadi Party despite opposition from his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, M.K. Stalin is in firm command of the DMK after his father Karunanidhi's death, Jayant Chaudhary is working alongside and often ahead of his father Ajit Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal. And of course Rahul Gandhi is finally Congress president, replacing his mother Sonia Gandhi.
The NCP’s Sharad Pawar is still trying to clear the path for his daughter Supriya Sule although in this he has not been as successful as he might have hoped. In Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan the Congress which is the main opposition to the BJP has replaced the old guard with younger faces – Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot respectively – on the ground. In other words, after a long while generational change is impacting Opposition politics.
The result is that the language has become younger and the rhetoric more direct, with more energy in campaigns and in politics itself. Twitter is second nature to the younger leaders all of whom make good use of it, dashing off direct counters to the BJP from the prime minister to his team of ministers. For instance, even as a young woman was held in Chennai for shouting “Fascist BJP down down”, which a Minister on the same flight took as personal, Stalin came in with a tweet saying he would shout the same slogan again, and if people were arrested for calling the BJP fascist then lakhs would be in jail.