KOCHI: Debate on young party workers getting sidelined and a quota for them are heating up the pre-poll talks, but nearly four decades ago, the Indian National Congress (Urs) had offered a model in promoting youth in politics.
The average age of INC(U) legislators in the Sixth Kerala Assembly was 39. The 21 members of the INC(U)—elected as LDF candidates in 1980—were led by a 36-year-old Oommen Chandy. Incidentally, the average age of the members in the second biggest partner in the ruling coalition then was equivalent to the age of A K Antony, the president of KPCC(U). A dozen among them—57 per cent of the total—were in their 30s. Seven were in their 40s, while only two crossed 50: 52-year-olds T P Peethambaran Master and Vakkom Purushothaman.
V M Sudheeran, present KPCC president, then 32, was the baby of the group.
“If the youth are not getting seats now, it is due to their fault. We never had any recommendation or went after any leader for a seat. Now, young leaders are either silent for the sake of their career or to satisfy the coterie they belong to,” said NCP leader A K Saseendran, an MLA who was one among the 21 INC(U) members. At 34, he was then state president of the Youth Congress (U).
“I don’t agree. We are also raising issues. Now, the situation is different. Some seats have been attached to leaders because they hold it braving anti-incumbency. We can win at least 25 seats held by LDF if the youth are fielded,” said Dean Kuriakose, state Youth Congress president.