Meet Arya Rajendran, India's youngest mayor: 21-year-old CPM member vows to prioritise healthcare, continue her studies

Arya is a second year BSc mathematics student at the All Saints College in Thiruvananthapuram and is also a state committee member of the Students Federation of India. She is also the state president of Balasangam, the children's wing of the CPM

FP Staff December 28, 2020 21:37:18 IST
Meet Arya Rajendran, India's youngest mayor: 21-year-old CPM member vows to prioritise healthcare, continue her studies

File photo of Arya Rajendran. News18

On Monday, 21-year-old Arya Rajendran became India's youngest mayor after being sworn in for the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation's top job.

Arya is a second year BSc mathematics student at the All Saints College in Thiruvananthapuram and is also a state committee member of the Students Federation of India (SFI). She is also the state president of Balasangam, the children's wing of the CPM.

She has been associated with the CPM since she was six years old, when she became a member of the Balasangham.

She told the media that the "organisational experience" she derived from her work as a member of the SFI and CPM "proved very useful" during her campaign.

"I could meet people and communicate our ideas very clearly," she was quoted by The News Minute as saying.

After winning the election, she was quoted by reports as saying that she will continue to pursue her degree while managing the responsibilities as the mayor. "People in my ward gave me a thumping margin because I was young and a student. I will pursue my studies along with my public service," she said.

As mayor, her top priority will reportedly be to improve and regulate the waste management in Thiruvananthapuram.

"Our city is beautiful. To keep it like this, it should be free of waste. Besides a scientific waste management system, a thorough awareness is needed among people not to dump waste on the road," Rajendran told DNA.

"Importantly, I also intend to set up a primary health centre (PHC) in Mudavanmugal. It is important that there is a PHC at ward level, especially in the times of COVID-19 . Many people are reluctant to go to hospitals, primarily those with other diseases and those with children. So a 24-hour PHC, which is accessible for everyone, is very important. There will also be programmes focussed on youth, on women and on students," she added.

Her parents Rajendran and Sreelatha, are "long-time" communist party members. Her father works as an electrician and her mother is an LIC agent, as per Livemint.

Arya counts Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and state health minister KK Shailaja among the leaders who inspire her.

"I am a person who grew up listening to my father saying that it is not the individual, but party which is supreme. I will continue as an obedient party comrade," she added.

In the civic polls, Rajendran, garnering 2,872  votes, won from the Mudavanmugal ward. She defeated her nearest opponent by 549 votes.

With the NDA and Congress-led UDF deciding to field candidates for the mayor's post, an election was necessitated on Monday.

In the mayoral election, Rajendran garnered 54 votes (including Independents) in the 100-member corporation. The CPM-led Left Democratic Front bagged 51 votes the BJP got 34, the UDF got ten votes and other parties secured five votes in the election.

Rajendran was administered the oath of office by District Collector Navjot Khosa on Monday at the corporation council hall. CPI's PK Raju was sworn in as the deputy mayor of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, as per reports.

Why CPM picked Rajendran

As per Livemint, the LDF's decision to field the 21-year-old as its mayoral candidate assumes significance ahead of the Assembly election set to be held in Kerala early next year. More so, because the ruling CPM is in a "tight turf war" with the BJP and Congress over state polls.

"On its part, the CPM has set an example worthy to be emulated by all other secular and democratic forces in the country. Hope this would prompt parties like Congress filled with power-hungry dead woods to infuse more young blood into their organisational structure," the report quoted Kerala-based journalist KA Shaji as saying.

However, the party's selection of Rajendran in a bid to appeal to the state's young voters is not the first such instance. Rajendran succeeds VK Prasanth, who was also the youngest mayor of Thiruvananthapuram when he was appointed to the post in 2015, India Today reported.

Prasanth was 34 at the time.

Additionally, DNA reported that the LDF has fielded four women, from ages 21-23, for the posts of president of four gram panchayats in the state.

Kamal Haasan, Gautam Adani extend congratulations 

Actor-politician Kamal Haasan and industrialist Gautam Adani were among the celebrities who congratulated Arya on Monday.

Adani tweeted, ""Congratulations to Thiruvananthapuram's and India's youngest Mayor, Arya Rajendran. Absolutely stunning and India's demographic dividend at its best. This is how young political leaders shape paths and inspire others to follow. This is Incredible India!"

Haasan also took to Twitter and wrote, "Congratulations to Comrade Arya Rajendran who took over as the Mayor of Thiruvananthapuram at a very young age. In Tamil Nadu too, the "Mother Force" is preparing for change."

Earlier, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and actor Mohanlal, whose ancestral home is located at Mudavanmugal, called and congratulated Arya.

Sabitha Begum, who took charge of Kollam Corporation at 23, was previously India's youngest mayor.

In 2006, the then-DMK regime in Tamil Nadu nominated 24-year-old Rekha Priyadharshini as the Mayor of Salem.

Additionally, senior BJP leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis became the mayor of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation at 27.

In Kozhikode Corporation, Dr Beena Philip of the LDF took charge as mayor, becoming the fourth woman to occupy post in the city.

With inputs from agencies

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