KOLKATA: Kalyan Choubey, the ex-India goalie who is in the poll fray in the city's Maniktala seat in the ongoing West Bengal poll, feels his out of the box thinking and 24x7 work commitment to nation building will give him an edge over TMC heavyweight and state minister Sadhan Pande.
Polling in the seat will take place in the eigth and last phase on April 29.
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 round he has come doubly prepared to contest against Pande, who is the two-time sitting MLA from Maniktala and a six-time Congress MLA from neighbouring Burtola seat.
"People want a change in West Bengal and they will act wisely before casting their votes for someone (Pande) who is 70 plus, is no more active and undergoes regular dialysis. I pray for his long life," Chaubey told PTI in an interview.
He feels that given the situation, voters will definitely think about who can deliver for them.
Their choice is between him, who is young and energetic and Pande who has been a sitting MLA for 40 years and has been in the government for the last 10 years in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet.
"When I talk to people, I feel that they need a change. I also feel that this time round I've got an image," 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 in a major IT services company by organising a special 100-hour CSR programme.
"They were 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 blamed TMC for rigging during the parliamentary polls and claims that he had himself faced it when a polling officer had reportedly gone missing in Krishnagar.
"Their (TMC's) rigging machinery is systematic. They are a master at it. The polling officer had later told me it was a gameplan to rig the EVMs," he said.
Chaubey claimed that there is widespread violence on a regular basis in Maniktala constituency between the rival TMC and Congress.
"You only see such things when a political change is in the horizon . The political scenario in West Bengal has changed so much now," he said.
The former soccer player said he is more experienced as a political worker now and is regularly involved in party work.
"I can feel the law and order crisis in West bengal as almost everyday I'm out for party work till about 2am," Chaubey asserted.
Asked, he said providing basic amenities like toilets is his main priority in Mankitala.
There are 2.11 lakh voters in Maniktala constituency, out of whom 1.35 lakh live in slums and do not have access to basic amenities like washrooms which force women to bathe in the open, he said.
"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.
He said the youth of today have no option to join sports due to the proliferation of illegal constructions.
"Giving them infrastructure and motivating them to join sports will be in my agenda," Chaubey who played for Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Salgaocar and JCT Mills, said.
Competing in the Olympics or international events like the SAFF games evokes pride for the country among the participants.
As he 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 said.