Lok Sabha Election

Poonam Mahajan banking on the youth to win polls

Firebrand leader: Poonam Mahajan is the current national president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. GIRI

In an electoral battle between two second-generation politicians in the Mumbai North Central constituency, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate and sitting MP Poonam Mahajan believes that she has come out of her late father Pramod Mahajan’s shadow. Ms. Mahajan, who is also the national president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), has formed a team of “millennials” to woo youths in her constituency.

Battle of daughters

Ms. Mahajan fought the 2014 election against Congress’s Priya Dutt despite being told she would never win. She went on to defeat Ms. Dutt by 1.86 lakh votes. This time, she is again pitted against Ms. Dutt, who initially announced she would not be contesting.

Ms. Mahajan said, “I know Priya socially. There is no animosity between us. This fight is no longer a daughters’ fight. I have been politically active for 13 years and an MP for five years. I have had to look into a wide range of issues, be it the redevelopment of MHADA housing societies or the issue of occupation certificates in MHADA buildings.” Ms. Mahajan was referring to an amendment in Section 33(5) of the Development Control Regulations to facilitate allocation of 508 square feet houses.

She said, “I also requested the Chief Minister for the conversion of the collector’s land from leasehold to free hold. This will reduce the rate of premium to be levied and will benefit thousands of societies in Maharashtra.”

Since the announcement of her candidature, Ms. Mahajan is busy meeting visitors and party workers at her office located on the first floor of a commercial building in Santacruz. Many call on her with flowers to congratulate her on her candidature and click pictures with her. When asked if people in public life don’t get tired of meeting visitors all day long, Ms. Mahajan said, “That is why I don’t socialise after work. I don’t go for dinners, parties. I go home and spend time with my family.”

Ms. Mahajan, who is married and has two children, is in her late 30s and confident of winning a second term.

Apart from road shows, rallies, door-to-door campaign, and the Prime Minister’s upcoming public address in Mumbai in April, Ms. Mahajan has the backing of a social media team. The team manages her Facebook page, coordinates her Instagram live videos, stories and monitors her Twitter feed. Ms. Mahajan has 6,19,000 followers on Twitter and 1,29,000 followers on Instagram. Her social media campaign is being led by Madhukeshwar Desai, vice president of BJYM and great grandson of Morarji Desai.

‘A right and a duty’

Mr. Desai said, “We have a team of youngsters who are first-time voters themselves. They are helping us tap the potential of the youth. We do realise that a large number of youth who were first-time voters did it for that ‘selfie with the inked finger’. But this time, those who will vote should do it for exercising their right to vote, which is a right as well as duty.”

The team is working from an office space in the same building. They will be going to colleges to reach out to the youth and inform them of Ms. Mahajan’s work. They will create awareness on the need to step out and vote.

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Printable version | Oct 30, 2020 5:06:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/poonam-mahajan-banking-on-the-youth-to-win-polls/article26667992.ece

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