Union minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is an Olympic shooter, former armyman and a fitness enthusiast. And he displayed his love for a healthy lifestyle today by walking half a kilometre to the Jaipur collectorate and performing pranayam – a Yoga breathing technique – before filing his nomination for the Jaipur Rural seat, from where he is the sitting lawmaker. Accompanying Mr Rathore was Yoga guru Ramdev.

Once they reached the returning officer’s chamber, Ramdev asked Rajyavardhan Rathore, Rajya Sabha lawmaker Kirori Lal Meena, who was accompanying him, and former legislator Rajendra Singh to perform pranayam before the union minister filed his nomination.

Saying yoga was necessary for those who fight battles, Ramdev said nobody can complain about pranayam to the Election Commission.

“Politics is in the doldrums today because people don’t do yoga,” he added. 

Rajyavardhan Rathore, 49, then filed his nomination papers and said, “The country needs leadership… All these decades the country lacked leadership and failed to progress but today it has that leadership under PM Narendra Modi.”

The BJP government has always been an advocate of fitness and has promoted Yoga extensively. Mr Rathore had last year posted a video of him doing push-ups on Twitter and started a fitness challenge, urgING everyone to shoot a video of their “fitness mantra” and share it. 

The Jaipur Rural constituency will see a battle between two Olympians – Rajyavardhan Rathore and the Congress’s Krishna Poonia – when it goes to polls on May 6. Both Mr Rathore and Ms Poonia have represented India at the Olympics and entered politics in the same year – 2013.

Rajyavardhan Rathore, who won a silver medal for India at the 2004 Athens Olympics, won gold at the Commonwealth Games at Manchester in 2002 and Melbourne in 2006. In the four years, he won 25 medals at various international championships.

The shooting champion was a Colonel in the army. He took voluntary retirement in 2013 and joined the BJP in 2013.

He contested the 2014 national election from Jaipur Rural and defeated senior Congress leader CP Joshi.

Krishna Poonia, 36, became the first Indian woman track-and-field athlete to win a gold medal at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. She has participated in three Olympics and was also awarded the Padma Shri in 2011.

“Our fight is not that of athletes. This is a fight to save democracy. There is a need to take up the issues of the youth, farmers and women,” she had told NDTV. “The BJP only makes promises… When the nation’s money was being looted, why were the chowkidars (watchmen) sleeping?” said Ms Poonia, a legislator from Sadulpur assembly seat.

Krishna Poonia, originally from Haryana, won last year’s Rajasthan assembly election from Sadulpur after a loss in the previous election.