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What makes a young Indian parliamentarian: Family, Crime & the East

New Delhi: If you are an ordinary, honest young man who hopes to enter parliament on sheer merit, you should give a serious thought to migrating to West Bengal or Orissa.
The 14th Lok Sabha that dissolved recently for the 2009 general election had 34 members under 40. Most of these young MPs are
hoping to return to parliament on the basis of their performance in the House and as symbols of opportunities available to the youth in
Indian politics.
But a careful look at the profiles of the 34 reveals several discouraging facts. One, in the home of the world's youngest population there are slim chances of a young man or woman entering parliament if s/he is not from a political family. If you don't have a powerful political father or mother, and don't live in West Bengal or Orissa, the next best option is to take to crime to enter the Lok Sabha.
The possibility of an honest Indian aged 25-40 and belonging to a non-political family entering parliament is highest in West Bengal, followed by Orissa. And among all parties, it is the Communist coalition that has been consistently fielding a high number of youth in parliamentary polls without pedigree consideration. However, many of the young MPs who entered the 14th Lok Sabha via Kerala had been part of violent public demonstrations and charge-sheeted for crime.
For a young Indian living in Uttar Pradesh (UP), the best way to enter parliament without the support of powerful political elders is to take to crime. Four of the young MPs from the state have been charge-sheeted for serious crimes, including murder and human trafficking.
A whopping 56% (19) of the 34 young MPs are from powerful political families, with almost everyone's parents, or uncles, former parliamentarians. A significant number of these family politicians were fresh in politics, many recent returnees from foreign universities. The 19 were mostly from UP, Maharashtra and Haryana, a few from the northeast and Tamil Nadu.
Another 20% of the young MPs were charge-sheeted for serious crimes. Among them was Samajwadi MP from Pratapgarh Akshay Pratap Singh, who is accused of murder, kidnapping, etc. He got the ticket because he is a cousin of Raghuraj Pratap Singh, better known as Raja Bhaiya, who in many ways symbolises the tryst of Indian politics with crime.
Thus, of the 34 young MPs, only 23.5% (8) found their way into parliament due to some suave political selection without consideration for pedigree or criminal capabilities. Of the eight, three are from West Bengal and belong to Left parties, including Krishnanagar MP and international athlete Jyotirmoyee Sikdar, and two from Orissa.


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