Gujarath Elections: Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani Fight as Independent
Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani on Monday announced his decision to contest the Gujarat polls from the Vadagam (SC) seat of Banaskantha district as an Independent candidate, ending the suspense over his electoral plunge.
Mr Mevani, 35, announced his decision to contest in a Facebook post this morning, also requesting the Congress not to field a candidate from Vadgam, so that he can make it a direct contest with the ruling BJP. “We need to expose the 22-year-old misrule of the BJP and hence should be a direct fight between me and the BJP. Request other political parties and independents to withdraw so that it’s a direct contest,” he wrote.
Jignesh Mevani too shot into the headlines last year when he led massive Dalit protests against the brutal beating of four Dalit men in Gujarat’s Una by self-styled cow vigilantes. He has accused the BJP of failing to protect Dalits and weaker castes. Dalits, 7 percent of Gujarat voters, are traditionally seen to have voted for the Congress. But in the 2012 state elections, the BJP – riding on the Narendra Moodi wave – had managed to get a significant number of Dalit votes.
Of the three young caste leaders, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor has already joined the Congress, while Patidar community leader Hardik Patel recently announced his decision to back the opposition party after accepting its proposed reservation formula.
Gujarat goes to vote in two phases, on December 9 and 14, respectively. Counting of votes will take place on December 18.