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Batting for change

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A different manifesto Empowering the youth
A different manifesto Empowering the youth

The Youth and Students Party strives to make politics accountable and provide citizens a better future

Youth and students have probably been associated only with a different kind of party. Until now. The Youth and Students Party believes that the population has a larger role to play and they’ve gone in for a cricket bat to represent that.

“BAT for our Country. BAT for Change, BAT for a Bright and Accountable Tomorrow,” emphasises Thomas T. Jacob, the party’s candidate who’s contesting from the Central Chennai Constituency. Thomas is an advocate practising in the Madras High Court for the last 13 years and runs a law firm Thomas & Associates. “I am happily married with two wonderful children. Like every responsible father, I believe in giving my children a good future.” And he has taken the first step towards that.

“Most political parties have been using youth power to its utmost — right from enrolling cadre, advertising and canvassing to raising slogans, but when it comes to tickets they say you are too young,” says Thomas.

“This is a party to empower the youth. It’s not to shun old people. Our Constitution says anyone can be a member but anyone over 60 is given an advisory role … But as far as contesting the elections, they will make way for the youth.” There has to be a retirement age in politics too, the party believes.

“The age group of 18-35 is 54 per cent of the population and if we can’t decide what we want, then what’s the point? It’s time we took a stand and voted,” says Dilip Mathew, an advocate who was he party’s original candidate from Central Chennai. Until he and a few others from his party found their names missing from the rolls. They had to change their candidate at the last minute.

Common agenda

Recently, the party announced the Accountability Alliance — Maya Ramachandran of the Humanist Party (contesting from Sriperumbudur), Thomas T Jacob (of YSP contesting from Central Chennai) and Independent candidate E. Sarath Babu (South Chennai). The three came together after realising that they had a similar agenda: making politics accountable. YSP has been campaigning over the Internet — through Youtube, blogs, emails and Facebook over the last few months and even came up with a jingle.

“There is a 35 per cent penetration in terms of the Internet in the city. And 35-38 per cent of the electorate is in the 18-25 age group and they are the largest Internet users. A lot of this age group is going to vote this time. The Internet and SMS are a large tool here. This is an even, ideal platform because our hands are not tied in terms of finance because the Election Commission has banned posters, wall paintings and banners,” explains Dilip.

The Youth and Students Party consists of working professionals, advocates, pilots, software engineers and doctors, with most of them having an extensive background in social work.

Won’t the euphoria fade out like it did with Lok Paritran, the party floated by the youth from IITs and IIMs the last time around? “We have been around since 2003 and we are still here. We were called the Youth and Students Association back then and we realised that unless we were in governance, we cannot bring change. We fought the elections in 2004. We campaigned on the hilly terrains of the Nilgiris and it was an uphill task fighting elections in a place where they didn’t know us. But we still managed to come fourth out of the nine parties. We ended up spending Rs. 19 lakh and couldn’t afford the next elections in 2005. But we still hung around and the EC guidelines today make it easier on our pockets to contest elections,” says Thomas.

“We are not saying we will win. But we will surely make an impact,” adds Dilip, about their second innings.

SUDHISH KAMATH

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