Narendra Modi is walking the talk. Or flying, in this particular case.
Unlike some of his rivals, Modi has paid more than mere lip service to 23 million young Indians who will vote for the first time in these elections. He’s gone the extra mile, travelling across states that hold the greatest number of new voters aged between 18-19 years. Together, the ten states with the most number of new voters comprise of over 70 percent of the total number of Lok Sabha seats (385 out of 545)
So far, he’s the only prime ministerial candidate who has visited Madhya Pradesh (seven times), Bihar (six times), Jharkhand (four times), West Bengal and Tamil Nadu (once each).
For more, see our map below, where we’ve superimposed the rallies of the three leading contenders on top of the number of first-time voters in each state.
Despite both Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi’s focus on the youth vote, their campaign tells a different story. And not one of the prime ministerial candidates has been to Andhra Pradesh since the beginning of the year.
Until very recently, Gandhi was the sole visitor to Rajasthan, which is the third highest state with new voters this election. Modi finally visited the state on Monday, on the first day of the elections.
The only states with large numbers of young voters, which have got all three candidates’ attention, are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. That, though, traditionally has been the case, even without new voters.
Modi also seems to have given importance to Jharkhand, which will be one of the youngest states to vote this year. It has 1.8 million voters, aged between 18-19 years, about 9.5 percent of its total electoral base.
The highest number of these young voters, predictably, comes from Uttar Pradesh (over 3.8 million). The state, which has the largest electorate base in the country, will be closely fought and crucial to the BJP’s national ambitions.
But elsewhere, too, Modi’s success in attracting first-time voters will be of consequence.
Anand Katakam dreams of working in Minnesota or Manipur after his time at the Columbia Journalism School. When he isn’t attending class, he is roaming the streets with his camera. Find out more about his wanderings @anandkatakam
Devjyot Ghoshal is a professional deadline beater and a multimedia journalist. Currently, he spends time attending lectures at the Columbia Journalism School. He argues with random people @devjyotghoshal
A former crime reporter from New Delhi, nowadays Indrani Basu can be found stopping people on New York streets and asking them their life histories. Tell her yours @IndraniBasu88