Tribal rights activist to fight from Jogeshwari East on AAP ticket

Hoping for the best: Tribal rights activist Vitthal Lad files his nomination in Jogeshwari East on Friday.

Hoping for the best: Tribal rights activist Vitthal Lad files his nomination in Jogeshwari East on Friday.  

Vitthal Lad faces Sena’s Ravindra Waikar in party stronghold

Tribal rights activist Vitthal Lad has sat on hunger strikes, led several protest marches and received blows from police lathis over the years. Now, Mr. Lad has decided to contest the Assembly elections as he believes this is his best chance to make himself heard better. On Friday, the 58-year-old filed his nomination papers to contest from Jogeshwari East on an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket.

Mr. Lad will be facing a stiff challenge as he will be taking on Shiv Sena leader Ravindra Waikar in the party’s stronghold. He said, “I have been on the forefront fighting for the rights of the tribal people. But political leaders have never responded to me sincerely.”

He said most politicians are after money and do not care much about people’s issues. Mr. Lad said, “Among the most relevant issues that I would deal with are saving Aarey, fighting for the rehabilitation of slum dwellers in the constituency and getting better infrastructure and facilities like water and electricity for the people.”

Mr. Lad has worked closely in all Adivasi pockets in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Aarey colony, Mulund, Bhandup, Madh Island, Gorai and Goregaon Film City. Besides fighting for land rights, he has also been on the forefront in highlighting issues like malnutrition in tribals. Mr. Lad is the founder and president of Kashtakari Shetkari Sanghatna, an organisation working for the rights of Dalits, farmers and tribals. He also heads Shramik Mukti Aandolan, which works to secure land for indigenous people in the State.

While most contestants work with a hefty budget for campaigning, Mr. Lad is relying on humble contributions from the members of his organisation and fund raising on social media. He said, “The members of the Kashtakari Shetkari Sanghatna initiated a fund-raising campaign and have managed to collect ₹55,000 till date. Money won’t be a problem for us because people who support us spend their own money and reach out. They don’t expect anything in return.” The contributions so far have ranged from ₹100 to ₹1,000. Mr. Lad is not unnerved by opponents like Mr. Waikar. He said, “The people in the constituency have had enough. They are tired of false promises. They want someone who can work for the aam aadmi.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 12:02:26 AM |

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