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BW Businessworld

The Young Shall Inherit

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Meenakshi Natarajan is not your ordinary MP. She rarely meets the press or gives interviews. Nor does this young parliamentarian ape her counterparts in politics whose modus operandi is to entice the voters in their constituencies. She connects with the young people of Mandsaur, her constituency in Tamil Nadu, on a social networking site inviting their suggestions. Natarajan, along with a select few young MPs, is part of the ‘core team’ of Congress leader and MP Rahul Gandhi.

Like Natarajan, there are a handful of other young MPs who are likely to play a pivotal role in shaping our nation in future. Aashti Bhartia’s Vote of Confidence offers insights into 17 such MPs — their vision for India, their hopes and aspirations. The author picks up nine MPs from the Congress party (it has the largest number of elected members under 40 years of age) and eight young Turks from other parties. The stories of the 17 parliamentarians are the result of personal interviews, constituency visits, and interactions with the people around these MPs. And the profiles offer more than a cursory peep into their thinking, ideologies and work ethics.
In the unfair world of politics, veterans and heavyweights get all the limelight; new comers such as Natarajan get pushed into the background. If at all we get to read or hear of such MPs, it is on page 3 or in some insipid opinion piece criticising their ‘inexperience’. The book goes much beyond such stereo-type profiling of the young MPs; it tells their stories beautifully.
This compilation features some of the obvious choices such as Akhilesh Yadav, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Milind Deora. But this is complemented by the selection of the likes of Natarajan (the only woman in the list), Anurag Thakur,  Sidhant Mohapatra, Jayant Chaudhary, among others. Interestingly, each MP has been given an interesting description. Milind Deora is ‘the man with the blues’, and Janardhana Swamy, the IT whiz kid from Chitradurga who gave up a successful corporate career to contest on a BJP ticket, is ‘the maverick’. The author digs deep in to the traits of these young parliamentarians and puts them in context to the cesspool of Indian politics. Sample this: “He is able to absorb a dozen punches, is able to take assault like a sponge, process it silently, and come back with an assured, unapologetic response.” The reference here is about Jitin Prasada.
The book is a wonderful attempt to let us know more of the folks who may be deciding our fate in the near future. One is slightly disappointed not to find a Rahul Gandhi or even a Varun Gandhi or the youngest MP, Ahmad Hamdullah Sayeed, featured. But, then, this could perhaps be a typical reader’s greed wanting more from a good book. 
(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 03-09-2012)