On JD-U ticket, professor challenges his MLA boss

A Leeds-educated associate professor of English literature in a college in the remote tribal town of Pavi Jepur of Vadodara district is testing the political waters by contesting from tribal dominated Chhota Udepur Assembly seat. It is one of the 26 reserved seats for tribals.

The 39-year-old, Arjun Rathwa, is contesting on JD-U ticket challenging, among others, the sitting Congress MLA and former minister Mohansinh Rathwa, who also happens to be his employer. Mohansinh is the chairman of Mohansinh Chhotubhai Rathwa College of Arts where Arjun teaches English. Mohansinh has won seven Assembly elections on a Congress ticket so far and has also been a minister twice. He is contesting for the eighth time on a Congress ticket.

Arjun, who did his post-graduate in English literature from the Sardar Patel University in Anand and a two-year course of Masters in Development and Education Studies from the Leeds School of Politics and International Development, UK, was provoked to jump into politics because, "The old-aged and well-entrenched tribal politicians for decades are not aware of the latest realities and hence not capable of solving the problems faced by the present-day generation of tribal youths."

"The 72-year-old Mohansinh is just Std X pass, while BJP candidate Gulsinh Rathwa is also a retired government employee and Gujarat Parivartan Party candidate Shankersinh Rathwa, teaching Sanskrit in a government college at Chhota Udepur is also about to retire. Both Shankersinh and Gulsinh have, in the past, been elected as BJP legislators," he said.

"What is the contribution of these leaders for the uplift of tribals? Zero!," Arjun said.

Arjun, who has been running a students guidance centre also to enable tribal students to get government jobs, said 10 tribal youths cleared the tests for recruitment in the Indian Army recently and another eight also cleared the examinations for jobs in ONGC but failed to get the jobs as they were not issued tribal certificates by the state social welfare department.

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