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In Chandigarh, parties court the youth vote
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May 06, 2009

Ajay Goel, an Independent candidate contesting the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat, claims he is the first candidate in India to have filed his nominations in Hindi.

Since the Election Commission did not have an affidavit in Hindi, Goyal says he had to painstakingly prepare it himself. He now wants to make this affidavit available to other candidates as well as the Commission.

He is pitted against sitting Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal, a Union minister of state for finance, and the Bharatiya Janata Party's [Images] Satya [Images] Pal Jain, who has won Chandigarh before. Goyal spoke to's Vicky Nanjappa about the election scenario in Chandigarh.

The biggest issue here is land acquisition. Are you ready to give an undertaking to the farmers that no further land will be acquired?

I have already given it to them in writing that if I am elected, I will ensure that no more land is acquired. I realise that the farmers of Chandigarh have been robbed of their land. Their rights and heritage have been robbed.

Chandigarh has been built on agricultural land. The farmers have resigned themselves to the fact that the government can acquire land whenever they want to.

The farmers have realised that their land has been acquired for Rs 6 lakh (Rs 600,000) an acre. The government, which is hand in glove with private developers, has handed over the land to them (developers), who have sold the land for nearly Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 million) per acre.

There is an awakening among the farmers that they are being cheated of a lot of money. They realise that the land is being acquired in the name of dummy projects as they can see that no project has come up on the land that has been acquired from them.

Unfortunately, in Chandigarh, farmers have been reduced to slum dwellers on their own land.

The other two electoral issues are drug abuse and the high cost of education. Have you been receiving complaints about these issues?

I have been receiving a lot of complaints on these two issues. While there is an urgent need to curb the problem of drug abuse, another issue that needs immediate attention is that of alcohol abuse.

In Chandigarh, a liquor store is located every 50 yards and worse, it is open 24/7. Due to the night life and bars being open throughout the night, drugs are easily available.

The high cost of education is another major issue here. Parents are spending abnormal amounts to get their children educated in private schools. Private schools have been increasing their fees by lying to the parents about imaginary additional costs. We need to put an end to this.

The Congress has embarked upon a youth-oriented campaign. What is your take on this?

Let me tell you, the campaigns have been extremely negative in nature. There are no election issues. Instead, we have hate and blame campaigns which are doing no good to the politics of this place.

How important is the youth vote in Chandigarh? Every candidate wants to take up the cause of the youth here.

There are a lot of problems that the youth face. We need to give special attention to the youth.

Chandigarh, unlike the rest of Punjab, has a different voting pattern. If the youth vote in large numbers here, I am sure of winning this seat.

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