In an election where an estimated 8.2 crore first-time voters exercised their franchise, possibly tilting the scales in several constituencies, what does it mean to have 64 MPs under 40, 221 between 41 and 55 years?
Chandrani Murmu, 25
India’s youngest parliamentarian can’t wait to get to Delhi and see her new workplace. “I have only seen photos of Parliament House. I’m eager to soak in the air,” says Chandrani Murmu, days before she sets off for Delhi.
Murmu won from Keonjhar in Odisha as a BJD candidate, defeating two-time former MP and BJP candidate Ananta Nayak.
The journey from being a 2017 BTech graduate to becoming the youngest parliamentarian has been full of unexpected turns. It was her maternal uncle Harmohan Soren, a social worker, who told her that the party was looking for a young and educated woman to represent Keonjhar, an ST reserved constituency. “I was initially hesitant, but my parents were very excited,” says Murmu, the youngest of three sisters.
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Her family, however, is not new to politics — her maternal grandfather, the late Harihar Soren, was a Congress MP in 1980 and 1984.
Murmu hopes to visit her constituency regularly to know its problems. On her list of priority projects are a railway line to connect the mineral-rich region to the port area of Dhamra, and a steel plant in Keonjhar. “These will create jobs,” she says.
Her new role comes with minor irritants though, says Murmu, among them people requesting her for selfies and relatives pestering her to marry. “Right now, my priority is work,” says Murmu.
Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, 33
After Class 12 from the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS) in Leh, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal worked as a teacher for two years to fund his higher education.
Two years later, in 2009, Namgyal, the son of a carpenter who retired from the Military Engineering Service (MES), secured admission in Jammu’s M M College. It’s here that he had his first brush with politics, joining the All Ladakh Students’ Association (Jammu).
At 33, he is the youngest parliamentarian from Ladakh, defeating Independent candidate Sajjad Hussain by 9,763 votes.
After his graduation, Namgyal moved back to his home town as a member of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and worked as office secretary at the BJP office in Leh.
Namgyal’s first bush with electoral politics happened when he contested elections to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh, and was elected a councillor in 2015. Three years later, he rose to become the youngest Chief Executive Councillor (CEC).
Impressed by his performance as CEC and with sitting BJP parliamentarian resigning as MP and from the party, the BJP named Namgyal its candidate from Leh.
On the issues he plans to raise in Parliament, Namgyal says, “The people of Ladakh have reposed their trust in me. In Parliament, I will raise issues that lead to the overall development of my region.”
Kavita Singh, 29
Janata Dal (United), Siwan
Sometime in 2011, Kavita Singh saw an online advertisement about Ajay Singh (in pic with Kavita), then a local politician with criminal cases, seeking a bride. Ajay’s mother, Jagmato Devi, the JD(U)’s Daraunda MLA, had died earlier that year and Ajay wanted to contest from the seat. But the party was uncomfortable because of his controversial image. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar reportedly advised him to get married and field his wife.
Kavita Singh, then a BA student (now a postgraduate in home science), was one of the 16 prospective brides. According to Ajay, he picked Kavita as she was “bold”. She went on to marry Ajay and win the 2011 Daraunda bypoll, a seat she retained in the 2015 Assembly elections.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, when the JD(U) was allotted Siwan, a seat the BJP had won in 2014, Ajay again sought the ticket. But again Kavita emerged as the JD(U)’s choice against RJD nominee Heena Shahab, wife of four-time former Siwan MP Mohammed Shahabuddin. Kavita portrayed herself as a housewife seeking to keep the legacy of Jagmato alive.
While Kavita, in her campaign, also spoke about PM Narendra Modi’s leadership and Nitish’s development plank, her husband seemed to play the Hindu card, wearing religious threads around his wrist.
In Parliament, Kavita promises to raise questions about the education system and employment situation in her constituency.
Praveen Kumar Nishad, 30
BJP, Sant Kabir Nagar
Last year, Praveen Kumar Nishad was the giant killer whose win in the Gorakhpur bypoll on an SP ticket raised the possibility of the gathbandhan emerging as a formidable challenger to the BJP. A year later, now the winning BJP candidate from Sant Kabir Nagar, he says he has a bigger battle coming up — seeking SC status for Nishads, his community of boatmen and fishermen.
“Humari ladai samaaj mein hissedaari ki hai (Our fight is for a share in society). Our community makes up around 18 per cent of the state’s population and faces extreme poverty, but comes under the OBC category. My politics over the next five years will revolve around getting SC status for the community,” he says, after attending a meeting of newly elected BJP MPs with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Nishad blames the SP for his switchover to the BJP. “The SP was asking my father (Sanjay Nishad, president of NISHAD party) to contest on its symbol. That would have finished our party,” says Nishad. Contesting on a BJP ticket, he won by 35,749 votes against the BSP’s Bheeshma Shankar.
After mechanical engineering from the Noida Institute of Engineering and Technology in Greater Noida in 2009, Nishad worked as a production engineer with a private firm in Rajasthan before quitting in 2014 and starting work with his father, a homeopathy doctor who then ran the Rashtriya Nishad Ekta Parishad. “It was then that I realised that our family may have everything but our community was still suffering as they did not know of their rights. Every two years there are floods and the Nishads lose everything. Gareebi ki bimari ka ek hi ilaj hai — aarakshan (The only treatment for poverty is reservation),” says Nishad.
He also hopes to work for the youth, he says. “The government should provide jobs to youngsters in their own areas so they don’t migrate. I will raise this in Parliament if given a chance,” he says.
Nusrat Jahan Ruhi, 29
Trinamool Congress, Basirhat
It was on May 27, when Nusrat Jahan walked into Parliament for the first time, that the enormity of her election win sunk in. “When I walked in, it felt like I was entering a temple — a temple of democracy. I realise how huge my responsibility is now,” she says.
Jahan, one of several film stars to be fielded by the Trinamool Congress, won from Basirhat, defeating BJP’s Sayantan Basu by a margin of 3.5 lakh votes. In 2017, Baduria in Basirhat had witnessed violent communal clashes after a teenager allegedly posted a derogatory meme on the Prophet on Facebook, following which mobs set vehicles on fire and vandalised shops despite appeals for peace by community leaders and clerics. Jahan, who is often seen taking part in Durga puja celebrations, had been projected as the Trinamool’s answer to the BJP’s minority appeasement charge against the party.
Born to a Bengali family in Kolkata, Jahan started her modeling career after winning a beauty contest in 2010, following which she soon made her movie debut. Nine years later, as she talks of her newest role, Jahan says, “My films help me connect with my audience but now that I am an MP, I am connected to every household in Basirhat.”
Dismissing the trolls that she has faced ever since her candidature was announced, Jahan says, “Trolls talk about me because I am famous.”
For now, she says she has her task cut out. “Like any other woman who handles home and work, I will have to work for my people besides completing my film assignments. I may have a few sleepless nights but I am not afraid to multitask,” she says.
Trinamool Congress, Jadavpur
Actor and now MP, Mimi Chakraborty was with Nusrat Jahan when they walked into Parliament on May 27 and posed for photographs, displaying their identity cards. The trolls came alive soon after, many of them going after Chakraborty for turning up in Parliament in her white shirt and jeans.
Like Nusrat Jahan, Chakraborty has been at the receiving end of trolls since the Trinamool Congress announced her candidature from Jadavpur, where Chakraborty defeated her BJP rival Anupam Hazra by 2.94 lakh votes.
Dismissing the trolls, Chakraborty says, “We talk about equality, women’s empowerment… yet we are now being trolled for wearing jeans. I haven’t heard of male MPs being criticised for their clothes but when a woman MP wears jeans, that bothers an entire nation. We will talk about things youth need, including jobs.”
Chakraborty, who has worked in both television and films, is a graduate in English Honours from Ashutosh College in Kolkata.
Most of her family members, she says, are “active Trinamool members”. “My uncles, grandfather and great grandfather have all been active in politics at some point or the other. So probably I am only taking that family legacy forward,” she says.
On the issues she plans to raise in Parliament, Chakraborty says, “There are many issues that bother me, three of which are on my priority list, but I will simply not talk about them now. When I raise it in Parliament, you will know.”
Goddeti Madhavi, 26
Even while she taught physical education at a tribal school in Paderu, in Araku, Visakhapatnam, Goddeti Madhavi says she hoped to join politics and continue the work her father, the late CPI leader Goddeti Demudu, started. “My father spent all his life working for people. I wanted to be like him,’’ says Madhavi.
So in October 2018, while YSRCP leader Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s padyatra was passing through Araku, she approached him and sought a ticket for the Araku Lok Sabha ST reserved seat.
Madhavi was pitted against V Kishore Chandra Deo, the Congress-turned-TDP leader, and V Sruthi Devi, Deo’s daughter, nominated by the Congress.
Madhavi, who has degrees in computer science and physical education, grew up in the backward Koyyuru and Chintapalli regions of Visakhapatnam.
“Politics is not new to me,” says Madhavi. “Thanks to my father, I know about the problems tribals face.’’
In Parliament, Madhavi plans to raise issues such as the lack of healthcare, civic infrastructure in tribal areas, and problems with drinking water supply. “Even today, there are no roads to some of the interior areas,’’ she says.
L S Tejasvi Surya, 28
BJP, Bangalore South
A photograph that emerged during Tejasvi Surya’s campaign was a decade-old one of the young BJP candidate canvassing for votes as a teenager for BJP stalwart H N Ananth Kumar.
The campaigns for Ananth Kumar, an association with the RSS and his uncle Ravi Subramanya, a BJP legislator from Basavanagudi in south Bengaluru, had all primed Surya, who trounced Congress’s B K Hariprasad by over 3 lakh votes, for early introduction to right-wing politics.
An advocate, Surya joined a law firm in 2015, and was also general secretary of the Karnataka BJP youth wing when he was picked to contest the 2019 polls.
The choice of Surya over Tejaswini Ananth, wife of the late Ananth Kumar, was initially met with resistance from the BJP cadre. The BJP eventually had to fly down party chief Amit Shah to ensure the youngster’s campaign took off.
Surya says he intends to be the voice of youth and of Karnataka. “When you can have an IAS officer at 25 years of age looking after a district, an IPS officer at 25 as the SP of a district, a captain of the Indian cricket team at 26, you can be an MP at 25 and raise the voice of the youth.’’
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Prajwal Revanna, 28
“Three years ago, I told Prajwal that I would give the Hassan seat to him in 2019 since I would turn 87,’’ H D Deve Gowda, former PM and national president of the Janata Dal (Secular), had said talking about his decision to field his 28-year-old grandson Prajwal Revanna from the family borough of Hassan in south Karnataka.
Considered to be the closest in likeness to Deve Gowda in terms of his political acumen, communication skills and attitude, Prajwal, son of Karnataka minister H D Revanna, was eventually the only candidate from the Gowda family and the JD(S) to win a seat in the 2019 polls.
An engineering graduate, Prajwal was considered studious and focused during his college days. But around seven years ago, he took the political plunge, learning the ropes in his father’s Assembly constituency in Hassan and the larger Lok Sabha constituency of Hassan.
During the Karnataka Assembly polls last year, Prajwal’s name was bandied about but Gowda convinced him to bide his time until the Lok Sabha polls.
During the Lok Sabha campaign, Prajwal had promised to speak in Parliament on agriculture and water issues on behalf of the people of Hassan and Karnataka.
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Heena Gavit, 31
IN 2014, when Narendra Modi was addressing his party’s newly elected MPs in Parliament’s Central Hall, Heena Gavit was in Mumbai, writing her final-year MD (medicine) exams. That year, Gavit, then 26, had surprised everyone by trouncing nine-time Congress MP Manikrao Gavit (no relative of hers) in the tribal-dominated Nandurbar constituency and becoming the youngest MP to be elected from Maharashtra.
Five years later, Gavit has won the seat for the second time and remains the youngest MP from Maharashtra. Daughter of BJP MLA Vijay Kumar Gavit, Heena dismisses the naamdaar tag. “Your merit counts the most,” she says.
Until Gavit’s victory in 2014, Nandurbar had been a Congress bastion. It was also known for being among the poorest districts of Maharashtra. “When people say Nandurbar they think of malnutrition. I want to change that picture,” Gavit says.
She wants to work on women empowerment through employment and self-employment, better infrastructure for education and improving the doctor-to-patient ratio in the district. But developing irrigation remains a priority.
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Indra Hang Subba, 30
Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, Sikkim
Sikkim’s new MP, Indra Hang Subba, is a PhD student at the Physics Department of the Central University of Sikkim. A political neophyte, Subba joined politics only in 2018. This was his first election.
The young MP had never taken part in student politics, but when Baichung Bhutia announced that he would launch Hamro Sikkim political party, Subba decided to take the plunge. “But soon after joining Hamro Sikkim Party, I found that the election of the president of the party was not quite democratic. So I decided to join Sikkim Krantikari Morcha,”he said.
Subba says his aim is to reduce the unemployment rate in the state to 5per cent.
“In Sikkim there are high suicide rates because of unemployment. Our party’s goal is to bring it down to five per cent. My priority is promotion of training and vocational courses. There are over 50 pharmaceutical companies based in Sikkim, but the youth don’t have the technical know-how. So these firms bring their work force from other states. We will introduce both short and long-term training modules which will help in employing the youth within the state,” he said.
Ramya Haridas, 32
Barely anyone in Alathur, the constituency that falls in Kerala’s Palakkad district, had heard of Ramya Haridas until her name featured on television news scrolls as the Congress candidate. Now, as the first Dalit woman MP from Kerala, who stormed the Left bastion of Alathur, Ramya’s win is among the most talked about events this election season. She defeated two-time sitting MP P K Biju by 1.58 lakh votes.
A native of Kozhikode, Ramya, 32, is the daughter of farm worker Haridas and Mahila Congress leader Radha. “Even during my school days, I was active in the Jawahar Balajanavedi (a Congress platform for children) in my village. Later, I joined Kerala Students Union and became a leader of the Youth Congress in Kozhikode. In 2007, when the Ekta Parishad (a Gandhian organisation) launched a campaign for forest rights for tribals, I joined it,’’ says Ramya.
Ramya was first noticed in 2011 during a talent hunt by Rahul Gandhi, then Congress general secretary. In the 2015 civic body elections, Ramya contested and won from a division reserved for women in Kunnamangalam block panchayat.
Her biggest regret, she says, is that she could not study much beyond Class 10. “Our family’s financial troubles dissuaded me, but I did my pre-primary teachers’ training programme and a short course in fashion designing. I conducted cultural programmes and led motivational classes in tribal and Dalit colonies. With the help of Congress leaders, I also worked as a facilitator for tribal projects in civic bodies. The little money I got through these activities sustained our family,’’ says Ramya.
Ramya says she has not made up her mind on what her maiden question in Parliament would be. But, she says, “what youth need most is skill training. I will strive to bring skill development centres to my constituency.’’
Abhishek Banerjee, 31
Trinamool Congress, Diamond Harbour
Much before he won his debut election in 2014, making him the youngest parliamentarian in the 16th Lok Sabha, Abhishek Banerjee was the man to watch out for in the Trinamool Congress. This election, with the BJP breathing down the Trinamool’s neck, the stakes were high for the party and for Abhishek, who defeated BJP candidate Nilanjan Roy by 3.2 lakh votes.
As nephew of party chief Mamata Banerjee, Abhishek rose swiftly within the party. In 2011, at 23, he became national president of the All India Trinamool Youth Congress. Soon after his debut election in 2014, which he won against the CPI’s Abul Hasnat from Diamond Harbour, Abhishek was made a member of several key parliamentary committees, including the Standing Committee on Commerce.
Last month, the Opposition in the state had attacked Abhishek over his wife allegedly evading an inspection by customs officials at Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. Abhishek termed the report baseless and politically motivated.
Kinjarapu Ram Mohan Naidu, 32
Kinjarapu Ram Mohan Naidu, 32, was elected MP for the second time on May 23, defeating Duvvada Srinivas of the YSR Congress Party. “I knew I would join politics some day but I never expected that it would be under tragic circumstances,” he says.
Ram’s father, senior TDP leader and former MP K Yerran Naidu, died in a road accident in 2012. In the 2014 elections, the TDP fielded Ram from Srikakulam, and he won by over 1.25 lakh votes. “I joined politics to carry forward my father’s work, and to take the schemes and policies of the TDP to the people,” he says.
An MBA from Long Island University in New York, he first became MP when he was 27. In his previous term, he had introduced a private member’s Bill for a railway zone. Ram has also started an internship programme in his constituency called ‘Politics for Impact’ for youngsters to participate in politics and to expose them to various aspects of governance.
Ram says there should be more young people in Parliament. “Politics isn’t just about winning elections, it is about finding solutions to issues that people face. I think young political leaders are better placed to do that,” he says.
Himadri Singh, 32
“Just like a girl changes her home after marriage”, Himadri Singh says, she switched from the Congress to the BJP, but stayed loyal to Shahdol, the constituency once represented by both her parents and which she has now won by a little more than four lakh votes.
Her father Dalbir Singh and later her mother Rajesh Nandini were Congress MPs from Shahdol. In 2016, after the death of sitting BJP MP Dalpat Singh Paraste, Himadri contested the bypolls, but lost.
Himadri joined the BJP only in March this year, and, a couple of days later, she was announced as its candidate. Her rival Pramila Singh had done the reverse switch: from the BJP to the Congress.
Himadri says the reason she switched was marriage. In 2017, the arts graduate had married BJP leader Narendra Maravi, nearly a year after her defeat in the parliamentary bypolls. Interestingly, her husband had lost to her mother in 2009 general election.
In Parliament, Himadri says she plans to raise the lack of rail connectivity in the region. Asked if the Congress government in the state, which enjoys a thin majority, would survive, Himadri says she is “too young to talk about it and would rather leave this to seniors”.
Raksha Khadse, 32
A year after her husband Nikhil’s death, Raksha Khadse stepped out into the big burly world of politics, winning her debut election from Maharashtra’s Raver Lok Sabha seat in 2014. Five years later, Raksha, 32, daughter-in-law of senior BJP leader and former minister Eknath Khadse, is now a second-term MP.
Raksha defeated Ulhas Patil of the Congress by 2.35 lakh votes. But the 2014 victory was a more personal one for Raksha — in 2010, Manish Jain had defeated her husband Nikhil in a legislative council election by a mere 16 votes, a loss that is said to have triggered his depression and eventual death in 2013.
When not in Delhi, Raksha spends considerable time in her constituency. She says her immediate concern is drought. “I have decided to raise the Tapi irrigation project in Parliament, which will resolve the water crisis in three districts and bring five lakh hectares under irrigation,” she says.
Her father-in-law Khadse attributes Raksha’s success to her hard work. “She campaigned independently and had her own team which reached out to people, especially the youth.”
Shrikant Eknath Shinde, 27
Shiv Sena, Kalyan
In 2014, Shrikant Shinde, son of Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra minister Eknath Shinde, made his political debut at the age of 27 and won the Kalyan Lok Sabha seat. Five years later, Shinde has retained the seat for the Shiv Sena and at 32, is the party’s youngest MP.
“In January 2014, when I first heard that my name was being considered as candidate from Kalyan, I was studying to be Master of Surgery in Orthopaedics. When my name was finalised, I was happy but I was also blank — I did not know much about Kalyan then. My goal then was to get the MS degree, open a hospital and be a doctor,” says Shinde, who won the seat defeating NCP’s Babaji Patil by a margin of 3.44 lakh votes.
“I am glad that the people of Kalyan voted for development and not on the basis of caste or other factors,” says Shinde.
His hefty winning margin aside, Kalyan’s 46 per cent voter turnout, the lowest in the state this election, has been worrying Shinde. “It’s not because people did not want to vote, it is because many names were missing from the voter list. So the first thing on my agenda in Parliament will be to make a system where people can cast their votes using Aadhaar cards for identification,” Shinde said.