Gandhinagar: C.J. Chavda, a veterinary doctor and a former bureaucrat, is the Congress’ face to take on BJP chief Amit Shah in the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency. The two-time legislator already looks like he is up against it, as the BJP seems all pervasive in the constituency, with its flags and saffron caps everywhere, even as the Congress is struggling to remain visible. With Gujarat set to vote on 23 April, ThePrint catches up with Chavda.
How tough is the battle for you as you are pitted against BJP chief Amit Shah?
Chavda: The battle isn’t tough at all. I do not think there is any challenge to winning. The Congress is the party of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Khudiram Bose and Baba Saheb Ambedkar. We believe in non- violence and we are a party that has believed in making Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of ‘Akhand Bharat’ a reality.
But the names you have cited have been appropriated by the BJP now. Don’t you think the Congress has forgotten about them?
Chavda: PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah remember them (the leaders) only when there is an election around the corner. They are jumle ki sarkar (government of lies). They have not fulfilled their promises and people have seen through them. People want change now.
How do you plan on winning? What is the arithmetic? You have won in only two of seven Assembly constituencies (in the 2017 state elections) that make up the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat.
Chavda: Gandhinagar North, Kalol and Sanand are rural segments and they will vote for Congress. We have shaken hands with independents who had the cut into Congress votes in the last elections. This time, the battle is going to be hard for the BJP. We will lead in four assembly seats.
While the BJP is using all its resources to win this election, your top leadership is missing in action. Had Rahul Gandhi been here would it have boosted your chances?
Chavda: Rahul Gandhi and his sister were here 15 days before the election dates were announced. It was a grand show.
Do you think this debate of nationalism is dominating the Lok Sabha poll discourse?
Chavda: The BJP cannot teach Congress nationalism. When we were fighting for independence, they were standing with the British. I congratulate our forces for what they gave done but Modi has not anything to do with it. In fact, he lowered the morale of the forces by visiting Nawaz Sharif. There is a slogan gaining traction here — Modi tujhse bair nahi, Amit Shah teri khair nahi (We dont have a problem with Modi but we will not spare Amit Shah).