In­dia’s first- time vot­ers mean busi­ness. They want jobs, ed­u­ca­tion and a govern­ment that works.

India Today - - FRONT PAGE - By Kaveree Bamzai

Ka­mal Ni­jhawan has just fought his way through a sweaty crowd of noisy Gur­gaon landlords and burly Bhi­wani farm­ers to ar­rive at the head of the press gallery at Naren­dra Modi’s Septem­ber 15 rally in Re­wari, Haryana. The 18- year- old’s proud­est pos­ses­sion is on his per­son: A black T- shirt with a bril­liantly coloured poster of Modi printed on it, bear­ing the le­gend, In­dia First: My De­fi­na­tion of Sec­u­lar­ism. The mis­spelling does not bother the stu­dent of Ro­htak’s Vaish Col­lege. He’s just come here to lis­ten to his

hero, who is a “leader, not a reader”. “Dekhiye

kaisa boltein hain. Koi kagaz nahin ( See how he speaks. There’s no pa­per),” he says.

Ni­jhawan was born in 1995, one of the es­ti­mated 149.36 mil­lion young­sters be­tween the ages of 18 and 22 who will be el­i­gi­ble to vote for the first time in the 2014 Gen­eral Elec­tions, but given the voter turnout of the 2009 Gen­eral Elec­tions, the num­ber of ac­tual first- time vot­ers could be 90 mil­lion. A child of Man­mo­han Singh’s lib­er­al­i­sa­tion, Ni­jhawan is among the 90.2 per cent who say they will def­i­nitely vote in 2014, ac­cord­ing to the In­dia To­day Group- CVoter poll of 5,014 re­spon­dents across 28 states. Over 30 per cent say they will vote for the BJP, 47.3 per cent would choose Modi as prime min­is­ter. Not ev­ery­one is a fan­boy, of course. Ask Shadab An­sari, an 18- year- old stu­dent of Ak­ber Peerb­hoy Col­lege of Com­merce & Eco­nomics, in Mum­bai’s Mus­lim- dom­i­nated By­culla, and he scoffs: “I will vote for the Congress be­cause they pro­vide work for us and if we have a prob­lem they are there to help us im­me­di­ately.”

Prag­matic and po­lit­i­cal, In­dia’s free mar­ket ba­bies mean busi­ness. They want a govern­ment that de­liv­ers the pos­si­bil­ity of pros­per­ity that they have grown up with. Cit­i­zen­ship for them, says so­ci­ol­o­gist Shiv

MAN­DAR DEOD­HAR/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

Aakriti Me­hta, 22 Pro­ducer MUM­BAI

NILOTPALBARUAH/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

Touheed Shar­iff, 20

Stu­dent BAN­GA­LORE

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