Professional, educated and aspiring to be politician

May 5th, 2009 - 10:45 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Nabeel A. Khan
New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) If you thought politics was the preserve of the corrupt or the criminal, think again. The 15th Lok Sabha polls boast of a new breed of candidates who are professionals, well educated and motivated people the middle class can identify with.

Bankers, doctors and graduates of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) among others are in the fray this time.

“For many years we have created a myth that all politicians are criminal and corrupt, but in the meantime Indian democracy has also emerged stronger. Educated and professional people have finally decided to plunge into politics,” Imtiyaz Ahmad, an eminent historian from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) here, told IANS.

Ahmad feels the participation of professionals as independent candidates or as those who float their own party is an expression of dissatisfaction with tried and tested politicians.

Rajendra Thakar, who contested from North Mumbai on a Professionals Party of India ticket, is one of them.

“India needs new parties as the traditional outfits are engrossed in corruption, as people need to see the hope that will lead the country forward. And that is one of the main reasons that new parties like ours have been floated with clearly defined objectives for people, not for ourselves,” Thakar told IANS on phone.

Bharat Punarnirman Dal is a party made up of IIT graduates that has put up 40 candidates across India.

Britain-based consultant Kumar Kuntikanamta came all the way to Mangalore, Karnataka, to contest. “I think all Indians want a change in the current political system, but very few are willing to act. People criticise politicians but they don’t want to join it,” he said.

Meera Sanyal, a banker who contested as an independent from South Mumbai and has been much talked about in this election, exudes confidence about her victory.

The strong presence of independent candidates this time has not gone unnoticed and it has made political parties wary that they will cut into crucial votes.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month said that independent candidates were ’spoilers’ and urged people not to vote for them.

Young voters are attracted to independent candidates.

Apurva Upadhyaya, a first time voter, says: “I will rather vote for a new and young party, may be an independent, as traditional parties have not been able to perform as well as they should have.”

Lubna Asif, at 25, is one of the youngest Lok Sabha candidates and is contesting from Gautam Buddh Nagar constituency in Uttar Pradesh for the All India Minorities Front.

Achin Vinayak, political analyst and professor at Delhi University, agrees that the perception of politics and politicians is changing and holds the 26/11 Mumbai attacks as a key reason for this.

“I think 26/11 made the middle class think that they are also at threat, so they started blaming politicians and became active,” Vinayak told IANS.

Vinayak, however, doesn’t think that the trend of middle class people and professionals joining politics is automatically a good thing.

“We have good and bad people among professionals just like in any other category. It would be partial to blindly brand all these fellows ‘good’ and ‘corruption free’,” he maintained.

On similar lines, Ahmad cautioned: “As our democracy is party-based, if candidates don’t have mainstream party support, it would be tough to function.

“The only way to bring about change is through mainstream parties because Indians do not vote for individuals; they vote for the party and so the chance of success of such a candidate is very less.”

(Nabeel A. Khan can be contacted at

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