Kolkata, Apr 25 (PTI) His fresh legs, out of the box thinking and 24x7 work commitment to nation building will give him an edge over TMC heavyweight Sadhan Pande, feels former India goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey, who is BJP's Maniktala candidate for the ongoing West Bengal Assembly polls.
44-year-old Chaubey has learnt his political lessons the hard way after having lost to TMC MP Mahua Moitra in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Chaubey says this time he has come doubly prepared against TMC veteran Pande, the two-time sitting MLA from Maniktala and a six-time Congress MLA from neighbouring Burtola seat.
'Overall, people want a change in West Bengal. I feel that this time round I've got an image. The people will act wisely before casting their votes for someone (Pande) who is 70-plus, is no more active and undergoes regular dialysis,' Chaubey told PTI in an interview.
Polling for the Maniktala seat will take place in the eighth and final phase on April 29.
'I pray for his (Pande's) long life. But voters are wise, they will definitely think about who can deliver for them -- someone young and energetic or someone who has been a sitting MLA for 40 years and has been in the government for the last 10 years (in Mamata Banerjee cabinet).
'When I talk to people, I feel that they need a change,' Chaubey said.
The former soccer player claimed that despite his loss in Krishnanagar, he is committed to the voters of his former constituency and has facilitated in providing jobs for 18 unemployed youths.
'They (the youths) were graduates but could not communicate in English and lacked self confidence. I arranged jobs for them in TCS by organising a special 100-hour CSR programme. They were so happy and never expected such an initiative from someone who had lost the (Lok Sabha) poll fight. You have to think out of the box if you wish to usher in a change,' he said.
Chaubey blames TMC of rigging during the parliamentary polls.
'Their (TMC's) rigging machinery is systematic. They are a master at it. I had faced this during the contest for Krishnanagar parliamentary seat. A polling officer had suddenly vanished before the election. He later told me it was a gameplan to rig the EVMs,' the BJP candidate claimed.
Chaubey claims that there is widespread violence on a regular basis in Maniktala constituency.
'Almost everyday there's a scuffle, violence (between TMC and BJP). It has become a day-to-day affair. You only see such things when a political change is in the horizon,' he said.
'The political scenario in West Bengal has changed much now. I'm regularly involved in party work so I'm more experienced now, though I won't say this is an easy task...
'Almost everyday I'm out for party work till about 2am... Sometimes I've to go to the police station, hospital or am out on the streets for a protest march. I have never led this kind of life. As a sportsman, I have always led a disciplined life. I can feel the law order crisis in West Bengal.' Providing basic amenities like toilets is his main priority in Mankitala, but Chaubey said he also wants to give it back to sports by creating infrastructure.
'There are 2.11 lakh voters in my constituency, out of whom 1.35 lakh live in slums. They don't have access to basic amenities like washrooms and women are forced to bathe in the open.
'But at the same time sports is in my blood and that's my identity. Definitely I will have a role to play in the Rs 2000 crore sports budget and will look to give it back to sports in the best possible way,' said Chaubey, who represented India in the early 2000s including in the SAFF Championships.
'There were a lot of open playing grounds in our times and youths were not engaged in iPhone or WhatsApp... Now they have no option with so much illegal constructions all round.
Giving them infrastructure and motivating them back to sport will be in my agenda,' Chaubey who played for Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Salgaocar and JCT Mills, said.
'Be it in Olympics or SAFF Games when you play for your country there's a pride involved. As I can no more go back to the field, this is the perfect platform to serve the nation in 'Rashtra Nirman' - that's our (BJP) ideology,' he signed off. PTI TAP KK KK KK