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News Analysis: India's youth to play key role in general elections

English.news.cn   2014-04-04 19:42:39

NEW DELHI, April 4 (Xinhua) -- India has the largest youth population in the world, and these young voters are poised to play a key role in the general elections beginning next week.

This is the reason why both the ruling Congress party and the country's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as their prime ministerial aspirants, Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi have campaigned hard for the youth vote bank in this year's poll, experts noted.

"More than 60 percent of the total population in India are below the age of 35, according to a study by the International Labor Organization, a couple of years back. So, both 43-year-old Gandhi and 64-year-old Modi know the importance of young voters," said Delhi-based political analyst Prof. Ajay Singh.

While Gandhi has mainly addressed the country's youth through a series of TV advertisements depicting young workers from the Congress, and Modi through his rallies and social media sites like Twitter, he added.

In fact, India's independent Election Commission had last month announced that "an overwhelming 814 million people will be eligible to vote" in the general elections. It also said that the voting percentage might reach 70 percent or more -- a 12 percent increase against the turnout in 2009 elections.

"Interestingly, 90,000 of these voters will be between the age of 18 and 22, and they will be the first time voters. They have their own aspirations from the political parties aiming to form the next government. They want a change in this country," said Prof. S.K. Gupta, another Delhi-based political expert.

But, what do these young voters want?

"A corruption-free society, social benefits, clean water, better roads, more investments and above all -- more jobs. We expect the next government to fulfill our expectations. We are fed up with empty assurances. We are for change," said 31-year-old Dipak Pillai who works with a private company in the Indian capital.

Echoing similar sentiments, Tarun Guha, a call center employee, said that he wanted to see new faces in Indian politics. "For ages, we have been seeing the same faces and hearing the same promises. We need new and young politicians," he said.

Probably this was the reason why 45-year-old former civil servant turned politician Arvind Kejriwal's anti-graft Aam Aadmi Party got a huge support from the country's youth, and as a result did very well in last December's assembly polls in Delhi.

"It was the party's debut elections and it got 27 out of 70 seats in Delhi Assembly, eventually forming the government in the Indian capital, with Kejriwal becoming the chief minister. The youth wanted change, and a corruption-free society. So, the anti- graft party got such a support from them," Guha quipped.

Observers here expect that the results of the general elections- - which start on April 7 and end on May 12 -- will show the real power of India's youth.

Editor: Shen Qing
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