BJP targets young voters with ‘Brand Advani’

January 16th, 2009 - 11:35 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) When he launched his own blog a week ago, veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani was making a point few could miss - that even 81 he was trying to be in tune with India’s young.The BJP - faced with a large number of young voters as the country prepares to pick a new parliament - is pulling out all stops to popularise its prime ministerial candidate among those in the 18-35 age group.

From the blog to a website to planned visits in colleges, the BJP is doing all it can to project ‘Brand Advani’.

“His campaign is not exclusively based on youth, but a major part is focused on the youth,” Sudheendra Kulkarni, who has put together Advani’s website (www.lkadvani.in) and is known to be a think tank for the BJP leader, told IANS.

“Advaniji is also encouraging volunteerism among youth and recently coined a slogan, ‘ek kaam desh ke naam’ (one work for nation) for them,” Kulkarni added.

The party is also trying to attract tech savvy youngsters through social networking sites such as Facebook, Orkut and also through www.youtube.com (more than 200 videos).

It has printed millions of stickers that state, ‘Advani for PM’.

“Besides all this, the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha will also go to colleges to meet students where he will talk to them in their own language,” Kulkarni said.

There has been a tectonic shift in his campaign since the BJP started projecting Advani as its prime ministerial candidate last year.

The campaigners are also advertising heavily on the internet to reach the e-generation. Advani himself had called the internet the third big invention of his time.

Often seen as a rightwing hardliner in the past, Advani has been trying to adopt a moderate face similar to that of his colleague and former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee to become more acceptable, say party leaders.

“No one can ignore youth. We are planning to organise youth conferences and we are also trying to reach out to youth through Advaniji’s website,” Amit Thakkar, president of the BJP’s Yuva Morcha, or youth wing, told IANS.

The BJP’s thrust on youth is also seen as an effort not to lose out to the youth brigade of the rival Congress party, which has leaders like Rahul Gandhi.

Political analysts also feel the BJP cannot afford to ignore youth.

“Appealing to youth is today’s requirement. Currently, nearly 40 percent of the population consists of people below 30 years of age and if you do not appeal to them, it would be difficult for anyone in politics. It is imperative for every political party to attract youth,” political analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao told IANS.

“Youth is a section which is not party loyal, they vote for whosoever appeals to them. Political parties have to be articulate to attract this group. Every election every leader has to do his best.

“Advani, who has been at the pinnacle of Indian politics, will try his best in these elections,” said Rao, who has known Advani for a long time.

The senior leader remained under Vajpayee’s shadow for many years. The 2009 Lok Sabha elections will perhaps be his last chance to become prime minister. And if that means focusing on the youth, the octogenarian may go all out for it.

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