Solanki will be contesting the assembly elections, which are scheduled to be held in December this year, as an independent candidate from Himmatnagar, in Sabarkantha district of north Gujarat. His election symbol is an apple. He is an ex-army officer who had left the services in 2012.
He fought for India in its most challenging terrains – the borders of Jammu & Kashmir and the Northeast. Solanki said he now had to enter the electoral battlefield to press for the rights of ex-service personnel.
“After retirement, I have been active in agitating for demands of ex-service personnel. With the change in policy, jawans get early retirement and remain jobless. We have hit the streets but our campaign has not elicited much of a response from the state government,” TOI reported Solanki as saying.
“I thought that if I could serve the nation for so many years, I can serve its people by joining politics. If I get elected, I can take up the issues of ex-service personnel more effectively,” he added.
A band of ex-Army mates joins Solanki in his canvassing drives. Solanki confessed that his moustache has helped him stand out. “My moustache is a big reason for my popularity here,” he said.
Solanki started to nurture his moustache when he was 19. By the time he joined the Indian Army, his moustache was flourishing and winning him acclaim.
“When I joined the Army, I feared that I might be asked to trim the moustache, but my senior complimented me for its well-groomed look. In fact, he immediately appointed me as his guard. Many of his visitors too appreciated my moustache and rewarded me in cash or kind, even gifting me a bottle or two of liquor. Over time, I came to be known as mooch-wale Gujarati,” said the retired army officer.
He was provided with a special allowance to maintain his moustache during his service. Solanki said that his moustache is his pride and he was told by his father to always uphold this pride.
(With inputs from TOI)