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Why Harsh Sanghavi embodies Narendra Modi’s clarion call for young blood in politics

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On several occasions when engaging with India’s youth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invariably pushed for the active involvement of the country’s youth in politics and development, saying “the youth should join politics because it will help bring an end to dynasty-based politics” in the country. “Dynasty in politics is against the idea of ‘nation first’ and would only breed corruption. Honesty and performance are the virtues of politics, and those who have faced corruption allegations are now finding it difficult to win the credibility of the people,” emphasized Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Speaking at the 42nd convocation of Anna University, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The whole world is looking at India’s youth with hope. Because you are the growth engine of the country, and India is the world’s growth engine. This is a huge honour and responsibility for all of you.” At Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative (FII) event, the prime minister reiterated, “India is very fortunate that 65 per cent of its population is below the age of 35. The necessity of skill development and human resource development here as well as on a global level produces great value.”

Harsh Sanghavi, the Minister of State for Home under new Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, is bringing to fruition Prime Minister Modi’s tantalizing prospect of bringing the youth in and ending dynastic politics. Harsh Sanghavi, the 38-year-old home minister (MoS), became the youngest MLA after winning the 2012 Assembly election. Starting his career with the Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM), Sanghavi rose to become the state general secretary of the BJP Yuva Morcha in 2010, and catapulted to popularity as a youth icon for organising employment fairs, his work in tribal areas, and setting up book banks in his area for the underprivileged.

Ever since, Sanghavi, who comes from a non-political background, became one of the backroom boys on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s road to victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. In addition, Sanghavi played a crucial role in organising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s roadshow in Surat during the 2017 assembly election. The convoy, led by 50,000 youngsters on 2,500 bikes and an 11-kilometer saree with the names of various government schemes printed on it, was praised for its exceptional organisation.

The young politician has exceptional feathers in his cap. In September, under Sanghavi’s radar, the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), along with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the Jamnagar regional unit, and the Surat crime branch, seized 39 kg of heroin worth around Rs 200 crore at Kolkata. Furthermore, over the last year, Gujarat Police and other agencies worked together to seize more than Rs 6,500 crore across the country.

The politician delivered a stirring speech at a press conference about the bust, adding that his team aims to expand the anti-drug drive to Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Kolkata to save the lives of thousands of youths.

“Due to our reward policy, Gujarat Police are getting more information about drug rackets operational in other states. Acting on such information, drugs have been seized. The politicians who are coming to Gujarat and police officials from their state are contacting Gujarat Police to get the documents of the reward policy,” said Sanghavi at the conference.

Keeping politics apart from political motives, Sanghavi said, “On Friday, our Gujarat ATS and DRI busted a racket and seized 40 kilograms of heroin from Kolkata. The drug lords of Pakistan and Afghanistan are worried over the seizure of drugs from the international borders of India and Pakistan. Political leaders are trying to woo the state police. The Gujarat government is committed to resolving their issue. The subject is under discussion between the government and police department.”

Janakbhai M Patel, Gujarat BJP vice president, praised Sanghavi and said, “It was not only Sanghavi’s organisational work but the social work during both the first and second waves of the pandemic that was praiseworthy. He was the first MLA to start 200 isolation wards in the Surat municipal corporation hall. Other MLAs followed him after seeing his well-equipped isolation ward. During the second wave, he was seen wearing a PPE kit during his visit to hospitals, and he arranged oxygen cylinders and beds for critical patients.”

Furthermore, taking serious cognisance of the increase in cases of sexual abuse, especially of minors, Sanghavi said, “We lead the country where maintenance of law and order is concerned. At the DG conferences across the country, the PM and UHM have emphasized ensuring speedy trials in POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act) cases. We have accepted the call as a challenge and ensured that important evidence is collected, charge sheets are filed on time, and the culprits are punished. We have been successful in getting the accused convicted.”

The promising candidate today holds ten portfolios: home, disaster management, police housing, sports, youth, and cultural activities as MoS, apart from independent charge of excise and prohibition, border security, and prisons, and was given additional charge of revenue recently after Rajendra Trivedi was stripped of the portfolio.

The party’s trust in the young candidate—reflected in the portfolios allocated to him—is nothing short of a harbinger of the changing Indian polity that promises the involvement of youth. In a short time, Sanghavi has made a statement for himself as an embodiment of New India’s youth-centric approach, and with the Bhartiya Janata Party’s commitment to youth involvement in politics, the stakes for the young politician are high.

The author is an independent journalist and columnist. He tweets with @pokharnaprince.

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