Arya Rajendran, a second year student of B.Sc. Mathematics at the All Saints’ College, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, created history by becoming the youngest Mayor in the State of Kerala and possibly in the whole of India after Suman Koli (elected Mayor from Rajasthan’s Bharatpur in 2009). Ms Rajendran was sworn in as the Mayor of the Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation on 24 December 2020, after she was elected a Corporator from the Mudavanmughal ward of the city.
Her father, Mr Rajendran, is an electrician, by profession, and her mother, Sreelatha, an insurance agent. Her brother, Aaravind, is an automobile engineer. Following her parents’ footsteps, Arya embarked on her political career very early in life. She joined Balasangam, the world’s largest children’s organization, affiliated to the Communist Party of India (CPM), as a child activist when she was in the fifth standard. She is now the state president of Balasangam.
After she joined All Saints’ College in 2019 as an undergraduate student, Arya became a member of the Students Federation of India (SFI), the students’ wing of the CPI-M.
Arya is a born leader and has always worked democratically with peers, encouraging other students and listening attentively to the opinions of others. Arya is also a conscientious, hard-working and self-motivated student. She has always displayed admirable self-discipline and is considered a valued member of the class by her teachers and companions.
The Mayor-student Arya Rajendran spoke to The Teenager Today in an exclusive interview given to the magazine, within a few days of her taking over as the Mayor of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation. She spoke extensively to the magazine’s representative about her early days as a child activist as a member of Balasangam, her frank opinion about students entering active politics, and about her personal take on violent protests and destruction of public property by agitating students, and members of students unions often patronised by different political parties. Excerpts from the interview.
You hold the unique distinction of being the youngest Mayor of a Municipal Corporation in the whole of India. You are certainly an icon and a role model for all young people in the country. Please tell us about how you came to be involved in politics from a very young age? Were your parents supportive of you?
I was born into a leftist political family. My parents are members of the Communist Party of India Marxist, CPI (M), for nearly three decades. I followed my parents’ footsteps. That is why I joined the Balasangam, the world’s largest children’s organization, affiliated to the CPI-M, as a child activist when I was in the fifth standard.
Did your active involvement in Balasangam come, any time, in the way of your studies?
I think political awareness and involvement in politics can and should go hand-in-hand with studies. There is no need to let off either of the two, and there can always be ways to balance the two. I have found it possible to spend time for both and I encourage students to do the same.
Do you think that the organisation has played a major role in shaping your thinking, and in developing your personality and leadership qualities?
It is the organization and my involvement with Balasangam that has given me the confidence and the experience in handling the new role that I don today. With humility I would like to say that whatever good qualities I have picked up as a person and as a leader, Balasangam has had a major role to play in it.