Cricketer-turned-politician and Congress candidate from Bhilwara Ashok Chandna was elected as state president of Rajasthan Youth Congress in 2013. While filing his nominations recently the twenty-nine-year-old, who is also sitting MLA from Hindoli, had declared that there were cases registered against him at various districts. He is on bail since 2007 in a case relating to issuance of a pistol licence in his name on fake papers, filed in Sriganganagar.
Chandana, however, talking to HT said he is not a criminal. Here are excerpts from his interview.
You had a criminal past as stated in your affidavit, how you will face the voters during campaign?
The cases are politically motivated; most of these are eight-year old cases in which prosecution has not even filed a challan against me till now. More than 800 people were involved in Ganganagar fake arms license scam. After the whole episode, I was elected twice by the people of Rajasthan.
How this general election is different from last assembly election which you contested from Hindoli?
The Lok Sabha election is easy for me in comparison to assembly polls. During the campaigning of assembly elections people used to complaint about poor roads, water scarcity and power problems as Gehlot led Congress government was in power then. But now, we are in opposition so I can easily complain (blame) the BJP government.
What do you feel about the role of caste equations during polls?
I don't think one can win only by getting votes from people of their caste. If one thinks so, people of other castes might get united against a candidate. A candidate can win by sticking to the ideals of his party and his ideology only.
BJP has a strong hold on booth level management, what do you say?
I am contesting Bhilwara by following the strategy of Congress and I had received training in booth management by our vice-president Rahul Gandhi. I am a field worker and due to booth management I won assembly elections despite the anti- Congress wave by 18,000 votes.
What are the issues you would be raising during campaign?
Chambal drinking water project, which is incomplete till now, is a major issue for Bhilwara. The issue was also raised by CP Joshi and we want to complete it on priority basis. Mining is another sector that needs to be looked after for employment of youths. I will try hard to promote textile industry in the district.
How you differ yourself with your opponent and BJP candidate?
He was MP in 1996 and legislator in 2003, ask him what has he done for Bhilwara. But now people have a new option like Ashok Chandna, a youth who can do lot of things for them.