In the BJP stronghold of Vadodara, an Army veteran is fighting the ensuing Gujarat Assembly elections to draw attention towards due respect and rights of retired personnel of the Indian armed forces.
AAP candidate Vinay Chavan faces a herculean task – of defeating the sitting legislator of 35 years, BJP’s Yogesh Patel in the Manjalpur Assembly constituency of the district.
Chavan served in the Indian Army for 16 years before retiring from the post of a Naik. He joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) during the agitation for the welfare of former servicemen in 2021.
Explaining his decision to contest the elections, Chavan said: “In this state, Army men don’t get anything after retirement. During the agitation in September last year, one of the agitators, a retired Army man, was beaten up brutally by the police, leading to his death.”
“That is when I decided to contest the state elections,” the 40-year-old told The New Indian.
Chavan admitted, though subtly, that his political journey won’t be easy but vows to fight the election with the spirit of an Army man. “I’ll fight this battle too.”
Moved by the demise of a fellow Army veteran, Chavan was encouraged by other agitators to fight the election. “And later, the party reposed confidence in me and gave me the ticket,” he said.
None of his family members or relatives has ever contested an election, he admitted. “But now the family is fully supportive of my bid.”
Up against a powerful contender, Chavan nowadays spends up to 18 hours in his constituency – meeting people door-to-door and explaining to them the AAP’s manifesto for the Gujarat state elections.
“People want a change. Though they won’t tell this to the media, they are with me. I am fully confident (of the victory),” he exudes confidence.
If elected, the Army veteran would work to address the problem of water scarcity in the Manjalpur Assembly constituency. “I have been witnessing the problem of shortage of potable water since when I was a kid.”
Chavan runs a focused campaign and highlights issues perceived to be the result of the BJP government’s inaction. When he heard the news of the demise of as many as 135 people in the Morbi bridge collapse, he immediately rushed to the town to meet the victim families.
Out of the 10 Assembly segments, nine seats were won by the BJP and one by Congress in the last state elections.