Eighty-nine-year-old Arjun Parmar, an independent candidate on the Jamnagar South seat, is the oldest contestant in the first phase of Gujarat assembly election. The constituency has remained with the BJP for the past three elections.
Born in Pakistan, Parmar came with his family to Gujarat soon after Independence. He settled in Jamnagar where he got into politics and remained a corporator for long terms in Jamnagar’s ward 15 from the 1980s to 2000s. He believes his awareness regarding local issues and his insights due to his long stint as a corporator will be an advantage in the present elections.
Other senior citizens in the fray include incumbent MLA from Junagadh, 77-year-old Bhikhabhai Joshi. Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) chief Chhotu Vasava, who is also 77, is contesting from Jhagadia. The fourth candidate in his mid-70s is Bhupendra Patoliya, an independent from Rajkot West.
According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) analysis, 80 of the 788 candidates in the first phase are aged 60 years or above. One of the constituencies – Shehra in Panchmahal – in the second phase is unique as both the primary contestants from the BJP and the Congress are 72 years old.
On the other end of the spectrum, four candidates in the first phase are 25 years of age – the minimum age required to contest an election. Six candidates are aged 26. A majority of these youngsters are fighting as independents.