Roughly 42 per cent of the candidates in the first phase of the Bihar elections, 249 out of 586, are less than 40 years old. In the electorate, on the other hand, 57 per cent (3.79 lakh voters out of 6.68 lakh) are aged 18 to 39. The first phase on October 12 will cover 49 seats in 10 districts.
Most of the young candidates got their tickets from smaller parties or are contesting as independents. Among the prominent ones is Arjit Shashwat, son of BJP MP Ashwini Kumar Choubey. He is contesting from Bhagalpur. Prince Raj, son of LJP MP Ramchandra Paswan, is contesting from from Kalyanpur in Samastipur. A third, prominent young candidate is the BJP’s Mrinal Shekhar in Amarpur; he comes from an ABVP background.
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Prince Raj, 26, who is also a nephew of LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, will take on another uncle, Maheshwar Hazari of the JD(U). Prince Raj has a masters degree in international studies from the UK, Shashwat is contesting a seat once represented by his father. He is an MBA with an engineering degree from BIT Mesra and was working in Australia before joining politics.
Bhagalpur district has 42 under-40s among its 142 candidates. Shashwat faces 20 other candidates, six of them under 40. “My party has not been doing well here after my father shifted to Buxar. I have the advantage of being the son of a senior leader but I earned my place by travelling 22,000 km early this year on a party membership drive,” said Sahswat, who faces sitting MLA Ajit Sharma of the Congress.
Amarpur in Banka has 11 young candidates including Shekhar. He used to be a spokseperson for Shahnawaz Hussain. He has been working in Amarpur for the last few years and takes on the JD (U)’s sitting MLA, Janardhan Manjhi.
“I am 36 but I have put in over 18 years in politics,” he said. “I am aware of the problems of Amarpur. I am happy to have come this far being a simple party worker.”