Gujarat polls: Cricketer Ravindra Jadeja bats for wife Rivaba in Jamnagar


The people of Jamnagar caught a rare glimpse of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja on Tuesday as he participated in a roadshow in the city, batting for his wife, Rivaba, who is contesting from the Jamnagar (North) constituency in the upcoming Gujarat assembly polls on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket.

The flamboyant all-rounder, who fans missed in the recently concluded T20 International World Cup where India was knocked out in the semi-finals against England, was seen waving out to fans and supporters in the city on Tuesday.

Jamnagar is hailed as a land of cricketers that has produced greats like K. S. Ranjitsinhji, the ruler of the Indian princely state of Nawanagar from 1907 to 1933 in whose honour the first-class Indian cricket tournament ‘Ranji Trophy’ was named. The district has also produced other players like Duleepsinhji Jadeja, Saleem Durani and Vinu Mankad.

Rivaba, a mechanical engineering graduate, joined the BJP in 2019.

“From the very early days of my school life I wanted to work for the society. I did my engineering and began preparing for civil services exams. I also appeared for defence services. It was always in my mind that I should do something for my county but was then married to Ravindra Jadeja. My life seemed to have changed but my husband understood me and convinced me that I should not give up on my dreams. When we met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018, I saw a path to take my dreams forward and joined the BJP. He was truly an inspiration for me,” she said.

Her candidature took many of the party leaders by surprise as she replaced the BJP’s Jamnagar (North) lawmaker Dharmendrasinh alias Hakubha Jadeja. Her selection came a day after the Gujarat high court on November 9 dismissed a plea seeking withdrawal of a 2007 mob violence case against Hakubha and others, saying the state government is trying to save him “anyhow and at any cost” under the pretext of larger public interest.

A Rajkot native, the BJP candidate will face veteran Congress leader Bipendrasinh Jadeja whose campaign is being managed by Ravindra Jadeja’s sister and the Congress women’s wing head Nainaba Jadeja. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded Karsan Karmur, who quit the BJP last year.

“I come from a family where everyone gets an equal opportunity and people respect each other’s choices even if they are not the same. There would be people from many families whose political choices may not be the same. It is not a problem. Why should it be?” said Jadeja.

At the campaign trail, Rivaba is seen going from door-to-door with several women accompanying her. Women empowerment has been something that has been at the centre of her campaign. In the last three years, Rivaba said, she has visited over 200 villages in Jamnagar district for promoting initiative like PM Modi’s ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ (save the girl child) and ‘Vahli Dikri’.

Asked what will be her number one priority if she gets elected, Rivaba said she wants Jamanagar to grow as a ‘Smart City’ from a municipal corporation.

Jamnagar, situated on the western coast of Gujarat, is the fifth largest city of the state and the second largest in Saurashtra region after Rajkot. There are 48 assembly seats (out of a total 182) and the district sends five candidates to the Gujarat legislative assembly.

Known for its brass parts industry, Jamnagar city houses the famous Lakhota lake, the banks of which have been hosting a round-the-clock “Ram Dhun” of the invocation ‘Shri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram’ since August 1, 1964 at the Bala Hanuman temple.

“This devotion has earned the temple a place in the Guinness Book of Records. Early evening is a good time to visit,” according to a Jamnagar municipal corporation website. The city has a population of about 6.5 lakh.

Mahendrasinh Chauhan, the childhood coach of Ravindra Jadeja who trains around 400 students at Jamnagar cricket academy for free, says that it has a capacity of training about 100-120 students.

“Today children look at cricket as a career option, and as a result there is a huge in interest in the sport these days. We can’t say no to anyone who wants to be the next Ravindra Jadeja,” he told HT.

Asked about what does he think about Rivaba entering politics, Chauhan said, “Both cricket and politics are very different. Had Ravindra said that he was entering politics, then I would have tried to stop him. But since his wife wants to serve the people, she is entering politics. She has all my support and blessings,” he said.

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