Arya Rajendran, 22, was voted in as Mayor of the Thiruvananthapuram City Corporation, the largest urban body in Kerala, after receiving 54 votes in the 100-member Council election, held on the morning of December 28 last year. She holds the record for being the country’s youngest mayor to date. This begs the question: who is Arya Rajendran, and what does she hope to achieve during her term?
Arya Rajendran, a BSc Maths student at All Saints College in Thiruvananthapuram, won the local body election representing the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or, CPI(M), in the Mudavanmughal ward of the city corporation. The CPI(M) had swept the local body polls in Kerala earlier in the month and approved the decision to pick her as their mayor candidate. Arya is now the third woman to head the local government in the capital city of Kerala. This election was the first time the 21-year-old was of legal voting age.
Arya, who has been an active member of the CPI(M) since she was a teenager, is now the state president of the Balasangham, the CPI(M)’s children’s wing. The state unit of Balasangham is considered the world’s largest children’s organisation. Under her leadership, the Balasangham has focused on solving student mental health problems by involving them in services that are specifically designed for them to seek help. The CPI(M) has been supporting the continuation of students’ education online throughout the pandemic and has been researching and completing surveys to assess its impact on students.
Arya believes that it is her duty to assist students who are having difficulty advancing into public life without biased treatment due to caste or religion. She is also an activist of the Students Federation of India. This is India’s biggest student federation, with the aim of uniting the entire Indian student population behind its cause of a universal and free public education system that guarantees everybody has equal access to quality education.
The young mayor comes from a family of CPI(M) supporters: her mother, Sreelatha, an insurance agent, her father, K Rajendran, an electrician, and her older brother are all members of the party. She previously mentioned in an interview with T21 Official that:
“I am the proud daughter of a proud worker. That is why I became part of this movement of the workers, peasants & other common people.”
She now intends to continue her studies while serving as mayor and attending to local matters. In a recent interview, Arya said that her college professors and friends were very supportive of her political career.
Prior to being elected Mayor, Arya Rajendran claimed that she would happily accept the position given to her by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and that she hoped that her education and political work would be cohesive. Her highest priority as mayor will be to address the city’s waste management problems. While she is still new to the position, everyone has high hopes that due to her background, she will be able to empathise better with the youth of the region, the working class and will work hard to uplift the poor. Lastly, there are many expectations resting on Rajendran’s shoulders as she takes up her position as mayor, but many are hopeful that she will bring about lasting structural change and provide a clearer path for those trapped in poverty.