Political commentator Paranjoy Guha Thakurta believes young India does not view Modi from the prism of the 2002 Godhra riots… The fact that no court of law has been able to convict him for the riots, adds to his credibility…”He (Modi) has a spinal cord, and I think his authority will come handy in checking corruption. Rahul, on the other hand, has no track record. His own constituency is in bad shape,” said Camilia Group regional manager Kaushik Banerjee…
The twin issues of corruption and unemployment rang the death knell for the UPA as young Indians, who voted enthusiastically in this watershed election, came out decisively in favour of the man who promised change and opportunities – BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, now Prime Minister. “The Congess-UPA Prime Minister was seen as a man without much energy. Modi with his promise of employment generation came as a natural choice and alternative to the youth,” JNU professor Manindra Thakur said. The sentiment was shared by the nearly 120 million first-time voters who look up to Modi to revive the economy. India has one of the world’s youngest populations, with 65 per cent of its 1.2 billion population below the age of 35 and about 50 per cent below the age of 25.
“With Modi, there will be no super Prime Minister,” said young entrepreneur and Camilia Group regional manager Kaushik Banerjee, reflecting the young voters’ disenchantment with the dual power-sharing arrangement between Prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
“He (Modi) has a spinal cord, and I think his authority will come handy in checking corruption. Rahul, on the other hand, has no track record. His own constituency is in bad shape,” Banerjee added. Political commentator Paranjoy Guha Thakurta believes young India does not view Modi from the prism of the 2002 Godhra riots. In the 2014 general election, there were 23.16 million voters aged between 18 and 19 years, accounting for 2.8 per cent of the total electorate. “The young voters do not seem to be influenced by what happened in 2002 in Gujarat,” Thakurta told IANS. “Modi’s ability to control corruption in Gujarat weighed down allegations that he remained mute spectator as over 1,000 Muslims were killed at the hands of Hindu right wing mobs.”
The fact that no court of law has been able to convict him for the riots, adds to his credibility. “So far, nowhere has it been proved that he was directly or indirectly linked with the killings. Why should the so-called allegations of communalism stop us from endorsing him,” asked Kallol Das Gupta, a KPO services owner based in Kolkata. Added to it, Rahul Gandhi came across as immature, often failing to articulate his policy on important matters, whether in respect to the dwindling economy or at crisis situation such as the nationwide protests which followed the 16 December Delhigang rape.
“A lot of people would have loved to connect with Rahul Gandhi who is a young politician. But he is generally seen as immature. He remained elusive till as late as the 15th Parliament was dissolved. And when he did give interviews, he looked uncomfortable and his answers on important matters of inflation and unemployment looked unconvincing,” Azhar Hajini, TV anchor and host of Goodmorning J&K aired on DD Kashir, told IANS. Hajini further said the money pumped in for the BJP’s election campaign too was a factor in influencing the youth towards Modi.
“He (Modi) was everywhere. In India, promotion is very important. When you make a film, you actually spend more money on its promotion than on making it. The BJP did the same, and the results are for everyone to see,” Hajini added. Salman Nizami, joint secretary of J&K Congress Committee, echoed the same thought. “Modi’s victory is also due to the fact that the National Democratic Alliance marketed itself very well. Our Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had done a lot of development work in his constituency Udhampur, but we lost the seat as we failed to inform the people about it,” Nizami said.
He added that polarisation also influenced the susceptible minds of the young voters. “In many constituencies, it was an election between two different communal sentiments, thanks to Modi openly exhorting religious sentiments of voters of one particular community,” Nizami lamented. No wonder, the BJP made huge inroads in States such as Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan where the voters aged between 18 and 19 years stood at 4.9 per cent, 9 per cent, and 4.8 per cent, respectively.