The prolific shooter is once again confident of hitting the bulls eye in a battle of “electoral era of past and future” against Congress veteran CP Joshi. (JPN/Agencies)
The 44-year old army man-turned-politician retired as a Colonel and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party last year. Rathore, who is contesting from Jaipur (Rural) constituency in Rajasthan, is pitted against Congress heavyweight Joshi.
"I have jumped into a deep sea without any life jacket as I love challenges. I had already achieved a very high level in shooting and I am very comfortable with the knowledge I have. Now I am like a second lieutenant of Army, absolutely alert to the environment and absorbing the things," he said.
"I am in LKG and in a short span of time I need to be a graduate. It is like a short commando course for me and I am loving the learning bit of it," said the double trap shooter.
Rathore wanted to contest from Chittor but the BJP fielded him in Jaipur rural, which is dominated by the Brahmin and Jat communities. The constituency goes to polls on April 17.
Rathore, who is a Rajput, feels people will this time vote beyond caste equations.
"People, especially youth, will vote beyond caste equations this time. The constituency does not belong to people of my caste hence it was a conscious decision of BJP to put me here. My opponents have come with the mindset of engineering a caste divide. This will be a battle of electoral era of past and future and I am confident of people here," he said.
Jaipur (Rural) constituency has eight assembly segments and bad roads, electricity and drinking water are some of the main poll issues.
Rathore is also banking on the BJP's impressive show in the Rajasthan Assembly elections.
When asked if he is finding it difficult to adjust in the field of politics, he said, "People say I came from a disciplined force to an undisciplined one, but I find many similarities which are amazing. Army is bound by written rules and regulations which are strictly abided by whereas, when an election rally is conducted, thousands of people are associated with it. There are no written rules but it works with amazing amount of discipline and no financial gains."
"In sports, I was representing my country but in politics I represent people directly. I have always lived with a cause. In army, it was the existence of the sanctity of nation and the men I was commanding and in sports it was the pride of my country while in politics it is the rights of citizens I am fighting for," he added.
Rathore further said his challenges during all his stints were different.
"In army, I went to Kashmir and did well which was a challenge. In sports, I went to Olympics at a time when no one believed that we can actually win. Coming into politics was also a challenge as I wanted to push the youth to achieve gold in various fields of life," he said.
When asked on why he chose the BJP, Rathore said that he wanted to be associated with a nationalist party.
"My earlier professions were nationalist in flavour and it was obvious for me to choose a nationalist party. If you compare the top leaders of BJP and Congress, those in BJP are far superior. Congress believes in appeasement while BJP believes in empowerment," he said.
The prolific shooter is once again confident of hitting the bulls eye in a battle of “electoral era of past and future” against Congress veteran CP Joshi.