Rahul meets Guj Dalit youth leader

Rahul meets Guj Dalit youth leader

A day after having denied any intent of joining a political party, Dalit youth leader Jignesh Mevani on Friday  met Congress  vice president Rahul Gandhi on the last day of his three-day visit to the South Gujarat region.

Though Mevani said his meeting with Rahul was positive, he stopped short of declaring his support for  the party. Instead, he said that all Dalit organisations and activists would go all out to defeat the BJP.

"Rahulji heard our demands and said that 90% of these demands were not even demands, but our constitutional rights. He has come forward to at least listen to our demands, while the 'janvirodhi' BJP has never even bothered to talk to us," he told mediapersons, during Rahul's Navsarjan Gujarat yatra.

"There has been simmering anger against the arrogant attitude of the BJP ever since the Una (Dalit flogging) incident a year-and-a-half ago," he said.  

Charter of 17 demands  

Mevani said he had met Rahul with  a charter of 17 demands. "The meeting had a proactive approach. There was discussion, debate and dialogue. Rahulji  has promised to include most of our demands in the Congress manifesto. We will do everything to defeat the anti-people BJP," he said.  

Rahul, for  his part, said the agitations by various sections of the society in Gujarat, including those by Jignesh, PAAS convener Hardik Patel or OBC leader Alpesh Thakore, were all "representative of the all-pervasive anger and frustration".

With Thakore, claiming to represent about 75% of the OBC, SC/ST communities in the state, having officially joined the Congress, Mevani's support could come as a shot in the arm for the party,  fighting the BJP's 22-year rule. Mevani represents about 7% of the Dalit community.

Mevani's support for the Congress comes even as Hardik is showing signs of tilting towards the party. Though he is yet to make his official stand clear, he has been sending out mixed signals over the past few days whether he would openly support the Congress or not.

But, like Thakore  and Mevani, Hardik, too, has made it  clear that he will work to defeat the BJP in the state.

Bhaveshbhai, a farmer and a BJP supporter, attended  Rahul's  rally at Itava. "We may get to hear something new. What is wrong in coming and listening to a national leader? It is not every day that we get to see a national leader."

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