Meet 21-year-old Priyadarshini of CPI(M), Chennai's youngest councillor

Priyadarshini won with a margin of 5,253 votes from ward 98 in Teynampet, one among the 50 wards reserved for women candidates.
Chennai Corporation councillor A Priyadarshini
Chennai Corporation councillor A Priyadarshini

Newly elected councillor A Priyadarshini is confident that she will end her ward’s perennial water woes. “Right now, the 42,000 odd voters in my ward – even those belonging to the middle and upper classes – are dependent on water lorries or water cans for their potable water requirements. I want to reduce this dependence and find a permanent solution to their woes,” she tells TNM.

The 21-year-old made headlines as the youngest councillor to be elected to the Chennai Corporation. She stood from ward 98 in Teynampet, one among the 50 wards reserved for women candidates. Priya won with a comfortable margin of 5,253 votes. Her party, CPI(M), is in alliance with the DMK, Congress, DMDK, IUML (Indian Union Muslim League), etc.

“I’ve been a CPI(M) loyalist from my childhood as my father, who’s an auto driver, has been a card-bearing member of the party for decades together now,” she says. Even during her days at Stella Maris College where she did a BA in Sociology, Priya was active in student politics (outside of the college). She was a member of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI, the student wing of the CPI(M). She later joined the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the CPI(M).

Ahead of the 2022 local body elections, when the party wanted Priya to contest from her ward, she did not hesitate. “I’m used to serving the public and also seeing my dad doing the same thing right from childhood. So standing for elections and receiving the mandate to become a public servant is something that I’m happy about. It is an extension of my service to the public that I have done for so long,” she says.

The Chennai Corporation is slated to have a woman mayor and up to 50 women councillors.

When asked if she aspires for a career in politics, Priya says that she would love to enter politics, but that it was “up to the party”. “The party told me to stand for elections and I did. Now if the party wants me to continue in politics, I will,” she says.

More young women candidates have been elected as ward councillors this year. In ward 136 in Kodambakkam, 22-year-old Nilavarasi charted history by being elected to the corporation. She is an MBA aspirant and wants to balance her duties as councillor with her studies. She says that safe drinking water and good roads are among the basic amenities lacking in her ward.

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