Blind candidate Rajesh Dayal speaks the aam aadmi's language in these elections
Rajesh Bishambahr Dayal is looking to make his mark in the upcoming general elections from Mumbai. A visually impaired person, Dayal is contesting as an Independent from the South Mumbai constituency. A Mumbaikar by birth, Dayal says he is clued into the struggles faced by common people and wants to speak for them.
Dayal is in for some tough competition. The South Mumbai seat is a prestigious one, with political heavyweights like Milind Deora of the Congress party and Arvind Sawant from the Shiv Sena pitted against each other. Dayal lacks their funding or mass appeal but is confident that he alone brings the aam aadmi's perspective.
Dayal is contesting as a representative of the Durbal Ghatak Agadi that is dedicated to the welfare of those who are poor and in need.
Dayal lost his vision in 1997 in an accident. His life changed dramatically but that made him more determined to not give up. A school dropout, he decided to complete his education after he lost his vision. He is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in social work.He also took part in a cycling expedition in 2017 and covered a distance of 1,700 km from New Delhi to Mumbai in two weeks.
Dayal who is an active social worker decided to contest elections after a brief stint in mainstream political parties left him disappointed.
Politicians make false promises and brag about things that they will do for the disabled people before they are elected. Once in power, no one spares a glance towards the poor people and those in need of help. I want to change that and be there for the people by taking up their welfare and not my own. - Rajesh Dayal, Visually impaired candidate, South Mumbai
Dayal is also deeply disturbed by the rural distress in Maharashtra and wants to help farmers who have been committing suicide as they are driven to desperation by the government apathy.
His decision to join politics has won him support from leaders like Vilasbhau Rupawate, who is with the Congress party. "I feel that Rajesh is a capable and deserving candidate though he is completely blind. By supporting him in the elections we can pave the way for a corruption-free and inclusive future. Unlike others he is honest and knows what it is like to be marginalized by the society. So I feel he will work selflessly to help people."
Whether Dayal wins or loses, his entering the political arena is a sign that people with disabilities are increasingly looking to make their presence felt in the political space. In the 2018 Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, deaf candidate Sudeep Shukla fought the elections. Shukla lost but his rallies attracted huge crowds and helped visibalize the disabled community, which has for too long been kept in the shadows. By stepping into the world of politics, the community is looking for ways to change that.
His entry is being closed watched by many in the city's disabled community. Pradeep More a deaf leader from Maharashtra is optimistic about disabled candidate fighting elections. He shared his thoughts with NewzHook."I am happy to know that a disabled person is contesting elections. It is important for people across all disabilities to unite and fight for their rights. For deaf people communication remains a major barrier and their voices are not heard. I hope that disabled candidates can work for the welfare of people across all disabilities without discrimination. "SaysPradeep More, General Secretary, SLAD-State Level Association of the Deaf in Maharashtra
Pradeep also feels that more and more disabled people should come forward and try to be a part of the political system as it is the only way we can bring about a positive change and improve lives of the people with disabilities in India.