The earliest memory of political activity for Arya Rajendran is of joining the Balasangham, a children’s organisation, as a 10-year old.
She had begun accompanying her father K.Rajendran, an electrician who had become a member of the CPI(M) in 2000, to party meetings much before that.
On Saturday evening, many young and old party workers who accorded her a reception at the Mudavanamugal ward, remembered the young girl who has been active on the ground as a red volunteer.
The 21-year old who is set to become the youngest Mayor of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, is still reluctant to take any questions regarding Mayorship, until her party makes the official announcement.
“Since my father has been an active party member, I had quite early developed the viewpoint that the Left’s path is the correct one. This understanding led me to politics. He has been of the opinion that his children can become active in politics if they wish to. During the stint in the Balasangham as well as the Students Federation of India, I got the opportunity to intervene in various issues concerning students and participate in protests. During the election campaigning, all this organisational experience came in handy, in interacting with the public and communicating my ideas effectively,” Arya told The Hindu.
A second year B.Sc student at the All Saints College in the city, she had missed some of her examinations due to campaigning, but is confident of balancing her studies with the new responsibilities. She is the current State president of the Balasangham, a member of the SFI State Committee and the CPI(M)’s Kesavadev Road branch committee. Her mother Sreelatha, also a party worker, is an LIC agent.
Waste management, improvement of primary health infrastructure and projects focussing on youth and women are her priorities as a councillor. Among the leaders she looks up to are the whole gamut of leaders of the Left, yet she points out the name of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as someone who has inspired her as a crisis manager.
The news of a 21-year-old being the Mayor designate has received much appreciation from across the spectrum, including Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who tweeted that it ‘time for a representative of the 51% of India’s population that’s under-25 to lead.’
One of the calls Arya received on Saturday, wishing her luck, was from actor Mohanlal, who is a voter in her Mudavanmugal ward.
The Guinness world record for the youngest Mayor is now held by Michael Sessions, who became Mayor of Hillsdale in the USA at the age of 18 years in 2005. In India, Suman Koli who became the Mayor of Bharatpur in Rajasthan at 21 years in 2009 is one of the youngest.
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