Jignesh Mevani to contest as Independent with Congress’ support

Aam Aadmi Party too pledges its support to Dalit activist

Updated - November 27, 2017 10:45 pm IST

Published - November 27, 2017 11:49 am IST - Ahmedabad

 Jignesh Mevani.

Jignesh Mevani.

The face of the Dalit agitation in Gujarat, Jignesh Mevani, has taken the plunge in electoral politics. He is contesting the Assembly polls as an independent candidate from the reserved Vadgam constituency in North Gujarat. The Congress is supporting him by not fielding a candidate of its own.

Mr. Mevani filed his nomination papers along with his supporters on Monday, the last day of filing nomination papers for the second phase.

In a message posted on social media, Mr. Mevani said he decided to jump into the poll fray after being “persuaded” by youths and numerous agitators. He even requested other Opposition parties as well as aspiring independents not to file their papers.

“As the ruling BJP is our key enemy, I request the aspiring candidates of other parties and independents not to file papers so that we can have a direct battle with the BJP. This is people’s battle against dictatorship and we will continue our fight after winning this election,” he said.

Earlier this month, he had met Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and announced his support to the Opposition party that seeks to dislodge the BJP in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home State. After meeting Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Mevani had said he would mobilise all Dalit organisations and activists to work against the BJP.

“I have vacated my seat in favour of Mr. Mevani,” Congress sitting MLA from Vadgam, Manibhai Vaghela, said, adding that all Dalits would work to ensure that Mr. Mevani wins with a record margin.

Immediately after he announced on twitter that he was contesting, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal supported him. According to sources, Aam Aadmi Party volunteers and workers would campaign for him.

Direct contest with BJP

Mr. Mevani will be in a direct contest with BJP’s Vijay Chakravarthi.

A lawyer by profession, Mr. Mevani rose to prominence last year when he spearheaded a Dalit Pride March from Ahmedabad to Una after an incident of public flogging of some Dalit members who were skinning a dead cow.

(With PTI inputs)

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