Can Rivaba Jadeja hit it out of the park for the BJP?

Can Rivaba Jadeja hit it out of the park for the BJP?

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Rivaba Jadeja, has made her electoral debut with the upcoming Gujarat Assembly polls. She is the party’s candidate from the Jamnagar North constituency.

Rivaba, who has been for less than three years in the saffron camp, has replaced the incumbent MLA Dharmendrasinh M Jadeja, popularly known as Hakuba. He had won the 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls by 59 per cent of the votes, and a margin of 41,000.

With her campaigning in full swing, Rivaba is eyeing to secure her maiden electoral victory by trouncing her main rival candidates – veteran Congress leader Bipendrasinh Chatursinh Jadeja and Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Karsan Karmur.

Who is Rivaba Jadeja? What challenges does she face in the forthcoming Gujarat Assembly elections? Let’s take a closer look.

Who is Rivaba Jadeja?

Rivaba, the wife of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja, is a Rajkot native. She made the plunge into politics in 2019 by joining the BJP.

Rivaba, who holds a degree in mechanical engineering, comes from a family with Rajput heritage and ex-royal lineage, reports NDTV.

She is a relative of Congress veteran Hari Singh Solanki; her sister-in-law Nainaba Jadeja is Congress women’s wing secretary in Gujarat.

In 2018, Rivaba was appointed as the women’s wing president of the Rajput group Karni Sena in Gujarat.

This group has hit headlines for its protests, especially against Bollywood film Padmaavat.

She has credited her husband for inspiring her to join politics and says the cricketer and her meeting with Modi in November 2018 was a turning point in this regard, reports The Hindu. 

Gujarat Assembly elections Can Rivaba Jadeja hit it out of the park for the BJP

Ravindra Jadeja and his wife, Rivaba, met PM Modi in 2018. News18 Hindi File Photo

On why she joined the BJP, Rivaba had told Indian Express in 2019, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a source of inspiration for me. His personality, his identity, the way he has led the nation, his vision for the country and the identity of Hindustan he has carved out in the world, it is a matter of pride for every citizen.”

Drumming up support for her candidature, Rivaba has already covered over 200 villages in her Jamnagar North constituency.

According to PTI, after she was fielded by the BJP, Rivaba Jadeja had said, “I will try my best to help people, raise their issues and fight for them. I will consider myself fortunate if I could do that”.

Ravindra Jadeja will also be campaigning for his wife and BJP candidate from Tuesday (22 November). “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),” Rivaba told News18.

Challenges for Rivaba Jadeja

Among the many challenges Rivaba is facing is putting her own house in order.

Dharmendrasinh, the incumbent BJP MLA from Jamnagar North, has represented the seat twice. He was dropped by the party after the Gujarat High Court refused to withdraw criminal proceedings against him in a rioting case.

The BJP workers believe that though she is not a known face in the constituency like Dharmendrasinh, she would still be able to mark a victory.

“Unlike Hakuba, locals do not know her well. Her only link to the city is Ravindra Jadeja. We are sure of a victory in the coming elections, but the margin is expected to be thin,” Balbhadrasinh Jadeja, a party worker, told Indian Express.

Rivaba, who is from the Kshatriya community, has been reaching out to BJP’s office-bearers in several municipal wards and beseeching them to treat her as their ‘dikri or bahu’ (daughter or daughter-in-law), reports The Hindu.

Meanwhile, the sitting MLA Hakuba is in charge of the three seats in Jamnagar, sources have told The Hindu.

He accompanies Rivaba during her campaigning and when asked if it is true that he is not taking interest in the polls, he told News18, “I have been by her side every time she needs me.”

Rivaba’s other challenge begins at home – Nainaba, who is campaigning for Congress’ candidate Bipendrasinh Jadeja.

While Nainaba has confidently declared that chances of her sister-in-law winning are low, Rivaba has refuted rumours of a feud with her relative.

Nainaba told news agency PTI that Rivaba carries the tag of ‘celebrity’ which would not work to her advantage. “She (Rivaba Jadeja) is a celebrity. I don’t think her candidature will help the BJP in winning this seat. People want leaders who do their work and stand with them in crisis. People prefer leaders who pick up their phone calls. I don’t think that she (Rivaba) will get more votes because she is a celebrity. People know celebrities don’t do people’s work,” the Congress leader was quoted as saying by the news agency.

Rivaba has claimed there is no feud in the family due to her and Nainaba’s political choices, saying they just believe in different ideologies.

“Even on our hands, all fingers are not equal in size, similarly ideologies too can be different. My sister-in-law is influenced by some other ideology and is working for it; in the same way, I am influenced by BJP and am fulfilling my duties. There is only a difference of opinion and no personal differences between the two of us,” she was quoted as saying by ANI.

The first-time candidate also does not view AAP as a challenge. “They are outsiders. Just by saying a few things on social media or speaking about Gujarat in rallies outside of the state, does not mean a thing. A third political force has never succeeded in Gujarat and will not,” she said, as per The Hindu.

Congress candidate Bipendrasinh, who is also the president of the Jamnagar Chamber of Commerce, calls Rivaba an “outsider”.

“Rivaba is an outsider and that’s my advantage. I am a local candidate. I walk seven to 10 kilometres during my door-to-door campaigning. I am accompanied by none other than Naina Jadeja,” the leader, who is also the general secretary of the Gujarat Congress Committee, told Indian Express.

“Secondly, 34 per cent of voters in Jamnagar North are below 30 years and have seen the BJP falling short of their promises. This group will help me win,” he added.

Rivaba’s efforts to woo voters

According to The Quint, the BJP’s Jamnagar North candidate has talked about women’s physical and mental health, spread awareness about the education of girls, and promoted schemes by the state and the central government in a video aimed at rallying support for the election.

She has also been visiting temples and ensures to greet and click pictures with the voters.

Jamnagar North seat has more than 2.61 lakh voters, out of which 40,000 voters are from minorities, 30,000 are from the Kshyatria community, 19,000 are from Scheduled Caste (SC) and 17,000 are Patidars, notes Indian Express.

The constituency is among the 89 Assembly seats which will go to polls on 1 December in the first phase of the Gujarat polls. The polling for the remaining 93 constituencies will be held on 5 December, with the counting of votes on 8 December.

With inputs from agencies

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