She hit the headlines five years ago when she threw bangles at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s convoy in Vadodara. Firebrand former teacher Chandrika Solanki, who relentlessly campaigned for better wages and facilities for ASHA workers in Gujarat, formally joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday.
In her capacity as president of the women’s wing of the Contract and Fixed Salary Struggles Committee, 45-year-old Solanki’s protests on behalf of ASHA workers since 2016 resonated with opposition leaders in New Delhi. She had police cases slapped against her but she soldiered on undeterred.
Her struggles were rewarded recently when the Gujarat government announced that it had accepted “most” of the demands put forward by the ASHA workers.
A native of Nadiad in Kheda district, Solanki is no stranger to politics. She contested the 2017 Assembly elections as an Independent candidate in which she was comfortably beaten by BJP’s Manisha Vakil.
Solanki’s teaching career began in a government school in Kotali village. She was adjudged as the ‘best teacher’ at an event in 2016 in a village in Surendranagar district, and was also honoured by the then Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
A few months later, she got involved in the ASHA workers’ movement and led a protest in Gandhinagar demanding a 30% hike in their wages. Such were the repercussions of that protest that she was suspended from service in 2017 on the grounds of ‘negligence’.
On Tuesday, AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal formally welcomed Solanki into the party and assured her that every single demand of ASHA workers in Gujarat will be accepted if the party comes to power.