Now, bangles have earned curious place in Gujarat assembly elections—the bangles that a woman threw at the motorcade of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the bangles in a Gujarati film song char char baangdi Audi lai do (Buy an Audi car with four rings).
Chandrika Solanki, 40, is an Independent candidate in Vadodara City constituency whose election symbol is bangles. This former schoolteacher, who dared to throw bangles at PM Modi's motorcade, is doing door-to-door campaigning in Vadodara city, along with a band of women. He way of campaigning is indeed out of the box. She displays to people the bangles she is wearing on her right hand.
Solanki is pitted against Vakeel Manisha Rajivbhai, sitting MLA of the BJP, and Anil Parmar of the Congress, in the constituency reserved for ST.
Solanki is the president of the women’s wing of Contract and Fixed Salary Sangharsh Samithi. She came the limelight through the agitations she led demanding wages for ASHA workers – who are under the department of health – equal to those of other workers. Vadodara City assembly constituency is a part of the Vadodara parliament constituency from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected. Modi later resigned from this seat.
She threw her glass bangles at Modi’s motorcade when the Prime Minister visited Vadodara in October 2017. After having been jailed for two days for the offence, Solanki came out and swore to contest against the BJP on the ‘bangles’ symbol. She claims that even Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had requested her to support the party, but she did not oblige.
Solanki, who campaigns wearing a blue sari and glass bangles of the same colour, says,“It was not for mere publicity that I protested by throwing bangles at Modi’s motorcade. An ASHA worker is paid a paltry Rs 1,000 a month. There are 1,70,000 such workers in all. I had to resort to the novel protest after agitations, lasting many months, demanding a raise in wages were in vain.”
Solanki, who was a teacher in a government school at Kotali village, won the award for the best teacher in 2016. However, she was suspended from her job recently for having led the agitation by ASHA workers. Now, she has resigned her job in order to contest in the elections.
She pins her hopes on woman voters who number about 1.5 lakh.
(This article was originally published in Malayala Manorama)