Mumbai: It was a routine accident, so routine that not a day goes by without an average Indian being in the midst of it — a pothole episode. While most deal with such pitfalls by complaining about it, this individual decided to contest the election to teach a lesson to the establishment.
Rajiv Ranjan Singh, is a journalist who has worked in Mumbai and Nagpur, for The Hitavada and DNA. He now resides in Nagpur, the hometown of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Last month, while riding his bike in Nagpur, his vehicle skidded over a pothole on the road and he was injured. He decided to hold the local corporator, the mayor, the municipal commissioner and the guardian minister responsible for this. He submitted an application to the Gittikhadan police station in Nagpur, seeking an FIR against all of them. But the BJP, which is the ruling party in both the Nagpur Municipal Corporation and the state, tried its best to oppose his move.
When this news appeared in the papers, it created a storm in local politics. People flocked to his house, thanking him for showing them a new way to fight the menace of potholes in a city ruled by a party which is also in power at the state and Centre. His move forced the concerned civic departments to fill the potholes, to calm down the public. However, police, under political pressure, would not dare to file an FIR against those whom Rajiv had complained.
As his movement for good governance gained traction, people urged him to fight the assembly election. While he had not bargained for this development, he agreed to give it a shot by contesting from Nagpur West. It is a BJP stronghold and Sudhakar Deshmukh, the sitting legislator from this seat, is trying to win another term. Congress candidate Vikas Thakre is not a strong contender and Deshmukh’s victory is certain. With Rajiv throwing his hat into the ring, the otherwise predictable contest has become interesting.
The Nagpur West constituency has a large Marathi-speaking electorate, mostly OBCs and SCs. Apart from this, there are Hindi-speaking voters who are upset as the BJP has not fielded any one from their community, despite their putting out banners pleading for such a candidate. Since Nagpur West houses the headquarters of the maintenance command of the Indian Air Force, its employees are a sizeable number of voters. Most retired employees have settled down here. As Rajiv’s father worked in the Indian Air Force and the Singhs are from Bihar, he may get the support of the Hindi-speaking community and the IAF employees. This community is known to traditionally vote for the BJP, but may lean towards Rajiv. His symbol is a football and his campaign is being funded by the public.