Congress, BJP mulling ways to catch young votersJanuary 30th, 2009 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS) With the Lok Sabha elections scheduled in about three months, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are desperately trying to woo the mammoth young voter population in the country.While the Congress plans to attract the GenNext voters by fielding young candidates in a big way, the BJP strategists are considering direct contact with the voters irrespective of the age of their candidates.
While Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, 38, has strongly advocated fielding at least 30 percent young candidates, the BJP is hard-selling its 81-year-old prime ministerial hopeful L.K. Advani with a spirited mass contact programme among voters aged between 18 and 35 years.
Gandhi, who made this suggestion at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) Thursday, initiated this experiment during the November-December assembly elections by getting tickets for 30 young leaders of the party.
Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chavan, who is also a member of the CWC, told IANS Friday: “A suggestion was made (to give 30 percent of tickets to young candidates) at the meeting. It will now be discussed at appropriate levels.”
The BJP put up a brave face Friday when asked how it planned to counter the Congress’ young brigade. Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters here: “Our party has the maximum number of young representatives, from a corporator, legislator to MPs. No other party gives tickets to so many youths.”
The party is not speaking of younger candidates, but is focussing on attracting the first-time voters. “We are launching a ‘new voter welcome programme’ for the elections,” Venkaiah Naidu told reporters after a meeting between Advani and chief ministers of party-ruled states Thursday.
The programme would entail door-to-door contacts and public meetings with first-time voters.
Advani has taken the lead and in sync with the cyber generation turned a blogger himself - on lkadvani.in - where he interacts with people and welcomes new ideas.
He recently had a long online chat on rediff.com. When asked if the country didn’t need a young prime minister with a global outlook and a vision for modern India, Advani said he had both the qualities.