Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi would meet Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani today at Navsari, a spokesperson of the party said.
Mevani, who has been critical of the ruling BJP in the state, is expected to discuss the demands of his community when he meets the Congress vice-president, who is currently on an election campaign tour of south Gujarat. “Jignesh Mevani and other Dalit leaders had met Ashok Gehlot (Congress’ Gujarat affairs in-charge) earlier and presented a set of demands to him,” Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said. “We have extended an invitation to Mevani to meet our vice-president Rahul Gandhi today. The two will meet at Navsari later in the day,” he added.
Congress Scheduled Castes (SC) cell national president K Raju also said a meeting had been arranged between Rahul Gandhi and Mevani. Mevani had earlier said he would meet Rahul Gandhi only when he was called to discuss the opposition party’s stand on various demands of the Dalit community. The Dalit rights campaigner, who has dubbed the BJP “anti-Dalit”, had also said he had no plans to join any political party. “I want to make it clear that neither have I joined the Congress nor am I going to join the party in the future. Not just the Congress, I have no plans of joining any other party as of now,” he had told reporters in Ahmedabad yesterday.
However, the young leader, who shot to fame after the Una Dalit flogging incident last year, had added that he was ready to meet Rahul Gandhi to know about the Congress’ stand on 17 demands related to his community. The demands include an allotment of five acres of farmland to the Dalits, alternative employment for those involved in cattle-skinning and manual scavenging and the release of a probe report into an incident of firing on the community members at Thangadh in Surendranagar district in 2012.
“Since the BJP government is not even ready to hold talks with us on these demands, it is very clear that it is anti Dalit. And, that is why we are also anti-BJP. But, that does not mean we are joining another party,” Mevani had said. “However, I am ready to meet Rahul Gandhi to know about his party’s stand on these demands. I want to know what can they do for our community if they come to power (in Gujarat),” he had added.