Tamil Nadu

New faces give TN politics a makeover


A refreshing ‘youthful’ change is quietly happening in Tamil Nadu’s politics dominated by the traditional dhoti-shirt or saree clad elderly politicians, who disliked the idea of allowing the youth to share the limelight in equal measure.

In an era where current affairs debates in Tamil television channels have come to dominate drawing rooms of households in the evenings, political parties have begun to field youthful faces to articulate the party’s viewpoints. A demographic tilt in favour of the youth, where over 12% of voters are first-timers, has reinforced the need to give space to the young.

Aloor Shanavas, a journalism graduate, who is just into his 30s, is increasingly being seen as an articulate face of the Dalit outfit Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK). Despite being a non-Dalit, he has been made its deputy general secretary and is a sought after spokesperson of the party.

“When youngsters see people like me raising important issues that concerns the oppressed communities, they feel that they also need to and could play a significant role in the society,” he says. Though he agrees that television debates rarely offer time to properly expound the party’s stand on complex issues, he points out that the television boom enabled the party to reach millions of people.

Another young man, Tamilan Prasanna, a spokesperson of the DMK, has been confidently taking on veterans of rival parties in debates, often breaking into fluent English to defend the Dravidian party’s past policies. He says that he feels the pressure of being the face of a movement that transformed the Tamil political landscape 60 years ago. “It is unnerving at times. And many a times, I have been in debates where I have been outnumbered by 4 to 1,” he says.

Crediting the party high command for encouraging the participation of young people, Mr. Prasanna, who entered politics while in college, says, “I have been lucky enough to get critical feedback and tips from senior leaders, sometimes directly from Karunanidhi.”

Likewise, Kasinatha Bharathi, also in his early 30s, who has switched from the MDMK to the AIADMK, has been strongly defending the ruling party and fending off attacking from critics.

The Congress too has fielded a young lawyer, Sudha, as a spokesperson. Despite facing snide remarks from men, Ms. Sudha says that younger politicians are often accused of lacking ‘historical perspective’. “This is something we get on a daily basis. How can we say that historical perspective can be learnt only if one lives through that historical epoch? The party leadership needs to cultivate young leaders and I am happy to be in a party that is open to the idea,” she says.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 11:33:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/new-faces-give-tn-politics-a-makeover/article7817748.ece

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