Rivaba Jadeja, BJP’s candidate from Jamnagar North for the December elections, is exhausted but greets everyone with a smile as she inaugurates an election office.
Accompanying her is Dharmendarsinh Jadeja who had won the 2017 assembly elections from this seat — a subtle message from the party to the cadre that its decision on candidate selection is supreme.
On Monday, when Rivaba Jadeda — accompanied by her husband cricketer Ravindra Jadeja — went to the airport to receive Amit Shah, the Union home minister enquired about the campaigning. “Full-fledged chal raha hai,” she replied with a smile.
Unperturbed by the challenges thrown her way, Rivaba Jadeja derives her strength from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s motivational words and her husband who ensures she gets everything she needs.
“I was wearing sneakers with laces and was facing difficulty in removing shoes on visiting temples or a gathering place. I told him [Ravindra Jadeja] casually that I don’t even have time to buy slip-ons. He asked my size and sent me a pair. This is a whole new side of his. This is how much he is supporting me,” says the BJP candidate.
Ravindra Jadeja will begin campaigning from Tuesday as per the schedule given by the party. “We will go to separate places according to the directions and schedule of the party. People want to meet him. ‘Unki taraf se woh mehnat kar rahe hain mere liye’ (he is working hard for me). We start our day with meeting people,” Rivaba Jadeja adds.
In the fray, she will face Congress candidate Bipendrasinh Jadeja and former BJP leader Karsan Karmur, who is now contesting from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Meanwhile, some believe that Dharmendarsinh is not taking much interest in the polls. Ask him if it’s true and the former MLA says, “I have been by her side every time she needs me.”
It was on PM Modi’s insistence and suggestion in 2018 that Rivaba Jadeja joined BJP.
“I wanted to contribute towards society since childhood. I thought of joining the civil services. Then I went to Delhi for three years and appeared for Indian Air Force as well. But it was all about destiny. I got married and life took a different direction. Family became priority. But I was yearning to do something for society.
“We met the prime minister in the later part of 2018 and discussed several issues. That was the first time I realised how down to earth he was despite his journey from chief minister to the prime minister’s chair. He made us feel so comfortable. He insisted that I channelise my energies in the right direction and fulfil my dream through the party’s platform. I joined BJP in 2019,” Rivaba Jadeja says about her journey with the party.
But will her celebrity aura be an impediment in her portrayal of being a people’s person? The BJP candidate says she has managed to make people feel that ‘I am one of them’.
“I have received comments like why am I visiting villages when my husband is playing IPL matches, that I should accompany him to matches. I am happy to share that I am at the bottom of the list of cricketers’ wives who accompany their husbands on tours. I have attended the least number of matches,” she adds.
And does she get messages from other cricketers’ wives? “I get best wishes from them but I am super busy with campaigning. They all are happy. They are also working for women empowerment in their own way,” she says.
Family Support is Vital for women empowerment
“When I speak of women empowerment, support of the family is vital. When you get married, your husband’s support is critical,” says Rivaba Jadeja.
Women empowerment should start from home, believes the BJP leader, and would want husbands to back their wives in achieving their dreams.
So, is she nervous about contesting elections for the first time?
“Everyone started from somewhere. I am grateful that I am a part of the BJP family. They will never let you be weak. PM Modi inspires and encourages me with his words. It is a booster dose for me. Gujarat elections have never been tri-polar as such. BJP is a cadre-based party and ‘karyakartas’ accept its decisions,” she says.
Asked if it bothers her that her sister-in-law is campaigning for Congress on the seat, Rivaba Jadeja says everyone in her family has freedom and liberty and it is not the first time that two people of the same family are aligned with different ideologies.
“They have their own set of ideology and I have mine. We both are focusing on own paths. Matbhed ho sakta hai but manbhed nahi hona chahiye. (You can differ with each other but there should be no differences among us),” says the debutant whose aim is to make Jamnagar a ‘smart Nagar’.
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