Gujarat election 2017: In what can be a setback to Rahul Gandhi, noted Dalit leader from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani has said he won’t join any political party in 2017. It was earlier speculated that Mevani, the convenor of Dalit Adhikar Manch, would join Congress. Mevani, who has been critical of the ruling BJP in the state, has said he is ready to hold talks with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to know the party’s stand on various demands of the Dalit community.
“I want to make it clear that neither have I joined Congress nor I am going to do so in future. Not just Congress, I have no plans of joining any other party as of now,” the young Dalit leader was quoted as saying by PTI. Mevani has been anchoring Dalit agitation in Gujarat following the Una Dalit flogging incident last year. The leader had put up 17 demands for the Dalit community.
Some of Mevani’s top demands include alternative employment to those who are involved in the skinning of cattle and manual scavenging, allotment of five acres of land to Dalits for farming and the release of a probe report into a firing on the community members at Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat in 2012. “Since the BJP government is not even ready to hold talks with us about these demands, it is very clear that they are anti-Dalit,” Mevani said. “And that is why we are also anti-BJP. But, that does not mean that we are joining another party,” he said.
With an eye on making a comeback in Gujarat, Congress is trying to garner support from all possible voters. With the statement, Mevani has kept his cards open, just like Patidar leader Hardik Patel, who is demanding reservation for his community but hasn’t yet announced an open support to Congress.