Jignesh Mevani said the BJP is targeting him as it has no agenda in the elections.
VADGAM, Gujarat (PTI) — The fear of defeat has forced the BJP to abandon the pretence of development and use the “communal card” to polarise the electorate, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani said here today.
Mevani is contesting as an Independent candidate from north Gujarat’s Vadgam constituency with support from the Congress.
The BJP, he said, is targeting him on “communal lines” for receiving a cheque of Rs 50,000 from the Social Democratic Party of India. But it should explain the reason behind the reported rise in fortunes of BJP chief Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah, he told PTI in an interview.
“If SDPI has links with any terror outfit or jihadi group, then why did Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh or Narendra Modi remain silent all these years? All they have given me is a Rs 50,000 cheque. Should one question this or the 16,000 times rise in Jay Shah’s fortunes?” he asked.
Mevani was referring to allegations that a company owned by BJP chief Amit Shah’s son saw a huge rise in turnover after his party came to power in 2014. The charge was rejected by the BJP and Shah’s son, Jay Amit Shah, who termed the story “false, derogatory and defamatory”.
Mevani, 35, said the BJP is targeting him as it has no agenda in the elections.
“These kind of tricks are not going to work. The people of Gujarat know that Jignesh Mevani is a man of impeccable integrity,” he said.
According to Mevani, the BJP was betraying nervousness by fielding the entire top leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, to campaign against him.
“I am confident of winning. In Gujarat, the issue of development has taken a backseat as the ruling BJP is using the communal card as a last resort. It is showing its true colours now. Over the months they will talk of development, but in the last lap they will bare their fangs and brazenly polarise the electorate,” he said.
Mevani announced late last month that he was contesting elections as an Independent candidate from the Vadgam constituency of Banaskantha district, prompting the Congress to swiftly withdraw its candidate from the seat, a traditional stronghold of the party.
However, a rebel Congress candidate threw his hat into the ring, raising the possibility of a division of votes of the Dalits and the Muslims.
Initially, that became a problem, Mevani said. However, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s joint rally with him at Kanodar in Vadgam yesterday smoothened the creases.
“Rahul categorically told Congress workers that they have to work to make the symbol of sewing machine (Jignesh’s poll symbol) win. The rebel candidate has no relevance anymore.
Initially, there were problems, not any more,” he said.
Mevani, who shot to fame after organising movements against atrocities against the community in Una and leading a long march ‘Azadi Kooch’ demanding land for Dalits, said he was reaching out to all communities in the constituency, including Thakores, Patels and Chaudharys.
“I am getting the support of all communities, including Dalits, Muslims and Thakores. I have been reaching out to them seperately over the last four days. Every meeting is getting a good response,” he said.
On ground, three factors, including the Congress rebel’s candidature, are working against him. Mevani is being seen as an outsider, since he is from Mehsana and his movement was largely based out of Saurashtra. And there is a possible consolidation of Hindu votes cutting across castes, which may favour the BJP.
Vadgam goes to the polls on December 14, phase two of the elections. The first phase was held on December 9. The votes will be counted on December 18.