WHAT THE FIRST TIME VOTER WANTS
India’s first- time voters mean business. They want jobs, education and a government that works.
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
Aakriti Mehta, 22 Producer MUMBAI
Touheed Shariff, 20