AHMEDABAD: Dalit rights activist Jignesh Mevani, who shot to fame for leading a major social movement for Dalits after the July 2015 Una flogging incident, filed nomination on Monday as an independent candidate from Vadgam (SC) assembly constituency in Banaskantha district.
The constituency has about 8.1% Dalit population. Mevani and two other young leaders — Patidar quota warrior Hardik Patel and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor — have joined forces against the BJP this polls.
Mevani (36), convener of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch (RDAM), said that Congress has withdrawn its candidate and other opposition parties too are likely to support him in his fight against the BJP.
“After I made public announcement to contest election as an independent, Congress candidate did not file nomination from the seat. The Aam Aadmi Party too has withdrawn its candidate. I am in talks with the BSP to pull out its candidate too. Let the fight remain between me and the BJP,” said Mevani.
Jignesh Mevani, on Monday, 27 November, announced his decision to contest the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections as an Independent candidate from Vadgam constituency.
“Friends, I’m contesting from Vadgam-11 seat of Banaskantha district of Gujarat as an independent candidate,” Mevani tweeted.
Friends, I m contesting from Vadgam-11 seat of Banaskantha district of Gujarat as an independent candidate. We shall fight, we shall win.
— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) November 27, 2017
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also showed his unanimity with Mevani’s candidature, taking to Twitter to congratulate him on his decision.
Best wishes Jignesh https://t.co/y8jnU5HfUH
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 27, 2017
During 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Mevani had campaigned for Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi as an AAP worker when he was contesting against Modi. In 2015, he resigned from AAP to pursue the Dalit agitation in Gujarat.
On why he chose to contest from Vadgam, Mevani said, “I have a lot of support in North Gujarat especially in Vav, Tharad, Suigam, and Palanpur along with Vadgam assembly seat. When I had held Azaadi Kooch (freedom march) one year after the Una flogging incident, I had garnered significant support in these areas not only from Dalits but also from Tribals, Muslims, and Patels.”
Mevani claimed support from Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti. “Narendra Patel (PAAS leader from Mehsana who accused the BJP giving him Rs 10 lakh as bribe to switch to the party) has extended all possible support to me,” Mevani claimed. “Besides, Kanhaiya Kumar and Yogendra Yadav may also come to campaign for me,” he added.
Answering the question, will public endorse him as an independent candidate against the BJP in absence of Congress he said, “I will do a massive campaigning in the area.”