Delhi might be the epicentre of Indian politics but a small centre in Mumbai is slowly gaining popularity across the country as a ‘nursery of politicians’. This centre provides rigorous skill-based training of one year to aspiring politicians so that they can turn into resourceful and successful netas of the future.
Designed and taught by experts, this specialized course is being offered for free by Chanakya Institute of Public Leadership under a special project in collaboration with the department of philosophy, University of Mumbai. Presently, 10 budding politicians are being trained in this project which started in 2010. Most of them are nominated by student wings of political parties.
The first half of the training includes governance and management principles of Kautilya (Chanakya), dealing with babus (IAS), corporates, spiritual leaders and the common man, especially the poor. The other six months look at field training and‘political entrepreneurship’.
Prasanna Joshi, 27, a mechanical engineer and a Pune resident, left his plump MNC job to pursue this course. “This course is important for me because I don’t have a political background and also lack the required skills and confidence to enter public life,” he said. Joshi now stays in the campus along with eight participants, five of whom are from UP and Bihar. They attend lectures in the morning which start with chanting shlokas. The class has most of the Kautilya sutras by heart. The evenings are dedicated to visits to politicians and other social work. The students have visited the four corners of the country meeting people, chief ministers, swamijis and CEOs.
Some graduates have already joined political parties. A journalist by profession, Urvee Patel now works in the women’s cell of BJP MLA Gopal Shetty’s office. ”Being a girl from a regular middle class family, I had little knowledge about politics but I always had an inclination. This course helped me fill that gap.” For Urvee, contesting an election is a dream but she wants to acquaint herself with grass root politics before trying her luck.
26-year-old Shubhranshu Mishra, an MBA, also from the first batch has started ground work in the Narela constituency (Kalahandi) in Odisha. Apart from other projects, his achievements include electrification in the area after a long battle. Speaking over the phone, he said, “Though my uncle is affiliated with the communist party, I wanted to start afresh with my own ideology. The pan-India network which I built during this course gave me enough support to continue to help people.”
Ranjeet Shetty, the director of the institute and one of the four faculties, said, ”We want to encourage value-based politics. This begins from us and that’s why we are not charging anything from these aspirants. However, we are eagerly awaiting more hostel rooms so that all 40 sanctioned seats could be filled up.”