Nagarjun turned 21 this year and hopes to make a difference by being a ground-level leader.

Meet Nagarjun a 21-year-old student who is contesting local body polls in Coimbatore
news Interview Tuesday, December 24, 2019 - 15:14

Politics is a space that contradicts itself. While it often calls for more youngsters to be active in politics, it is also usually unforgivable to those who muster the courage to wet their feet in the pool. But many youngsters who have tasted fire and survived it have mostly made it big. With Tamil Nadu’s local body polls for rural areas around the corner, the spotlight has fallen on Nagarjun, who is possibly the youngest candidate in the fray this time.

A 21-year-old journalism student, Nagarjun is a native of Neelambur, in the outskirts of Coimbatore.  Neelambur is a village panchayat with 12 wards and around 8,100 voters.

Speaking to TNM from his house in Neelambur Nagarjun says that growing up he had an undying interest in politics. “I grew up reading books of Lenin, Fidel Castro and Stalin. After my schooling, I told my parents I am going to study BA Political Science, but like any other middle-class parents, they wanted me to study something professional. So I studied BSc Computer Science. My heart was always in politics,” he says, adding that he used these years to read about politics and how India’s electoral system works. It was from these roots that he decided to take the plunge into politics.

A destined delay

For Nagarjun, who is now pursuing an MA in Journalism, the delay in Tamil Nadu’s local body polls is a blessing in disguise. "If local body polls had happened in 2016 as per schedule, then I could not have enrolled myself as a candidate. The next chance for me would have been 2021. But fortunately or otherwise, I got a chance now, the year in which I turned 21," he explains.

From the moment he announced his decision to contest in polls, it has been a roller-coaster ride, he says. His middle-class family, consisting of his father, mother and a younger sister, that has always envisioned a stable government job for Nagarjun, took their own time to understand his thirst for service to the society. “My family wanted me to become a professional. But what is the point if all of us become employees somewhere? Now they have understood my thirst and are a pillar of support for me,” he adds. 

That a 21-year-old college student is visiting their houses, seeking votes for himself in polls is surprising for the voters in his ward, since they are used to middle-aged men canvassing for votes.

Best place to start political career

Nagarjun, however, maintains that rural local body polls is the best starting point a political newbie could get.

“Just by raising voice in social media or doing activism there, things will not change. We have to get on the ground and work. And for that, rural local body is an excellent platform for youngsters like me. Because the area is small, it is our own area. We can do everything to take care of it and build confidence among the people," he says, placing his bet on a ground-up approach to be a public representative.

Among his poll promises are an android mobile app for his ward people to lodge complaints and grievances, waste segregation at the ground level and pushing for smart classrooms in the government school in his ward.

My work is for my people

When asked if he is intimidated by other seasoned local politicians who might also be a part of the elected body after the polls, Nagarjun points out that he is accountable only to his people.

"I am answerable to the 400 odd people who vote for me. Not to the others in the panchayat council. I will stand by the people. I am not scared. When my thoughts are fine, why should I be scared," he explains.

Adding that the feedback till now from the voters has been encouraging, Nagarjun says that this is just a beginning. “I am just asking my people to give me a chance like how they have given everybody else. They keep saying youngsters must come forward to take charge. I am here, ready to do that, is what I tell my people when I ask for votes. The result is in their hands.”

Elaborating on the need of the hour in terms of action, Nagarjun says that people must be willing to get on the ground and work for the betterment of the society. “We must look at politics seriously. For example, in countries like Cuba and China, political revolutionaries have been a source for inspiration. In our country we take entertainers as inspiration. I think we need to come out of that concept and focus on politics. Everybody must take an interest in knowing what the rights and duties of our elected representatives are and hold them accountable,” he signs off.

 

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