Oppn has not followed up on work it did during Gujarat polls: Mevani

Anti-Modi rhetoric alone will not help Oppn in LS polls: Mevani

Jignesh Mevani is a youth icon who rose to national limelight by leading the protests after the members of the SC/ST community were flogged in Gujarat's Una accusing them of cow slaughter. Mevani fought the Gujarat Assembly election as an independent candidate and won the Vadgam seat. As a staunch anti-BJP leader, he believes it is time the Narendra Modi government goes. The 2019 Lok Sabha polls, for him, is between Modi and 'We The People'. But he feels that Opposition has not followed up the work it did during the Gujarat polls. Mevani spoke to DH's Shemin Joy.

Where is Opposition placed before the next Lok Sabha elections?

With continuing farmers' suicide, agrarian crisis, price rise and unemployment under the Modi regime, it should be easy for the Opposition. But we have to analyse whether the Opposition managed to build on the narrative which we managed to build with the Gujarat Assembly elections where BJP was brought below three-digit figure. They won just 99 seats then while they claimed they will over 150 seats. In Gujarat, youth leaders like Alpesh Thakore, Hardik Patel and myself mobilised youth. The Opposition was strengthened there. But after the elections, did we see a huge mobilisation in Gujarat. Did we work on that nationally? Why couldn't the Opposition parties take up in a large way the issue of unemployment?

A recent survey had shown that BJP will not do badly in Gujarat in Lok Sabha elections. Do you agree?

The Opposition and civil society did not do the follow-up work after Assembly polls that they were supposed to do. There was no sense of urgency or killer instinct. Now it is only 4 months left. My point is that mainstream parties should aggressively take up agrarian crisis, price rise, jobs and the Rafale scam.

What are the issues for the elections?

Farmers suicide and joblessness are all issues. The price rise is a serious issue. We need to amplify these. BJP is not raising any of these because they have not done any work. The Opposition needs to expose them. You might have listened to the Modi interview. On a New Year day, when a national leader speaks, one expects that he will offer something new. There was no creativity, no imagination, no content, no vision in that interview. He has nothing to offer. Nobody is more corrupt than Modi. He is worst of the worst.

But there is a lot of talk about Ram Temple. Do you think it will be BJP's main plank?

People voted for building the country, building institutions, making their lives comfortable and the vote was not for building temples or mosques.

What is your advice to the Opposition?

I am a small fry. How can I suggest? This is not something that they do not know. We have to understand elections are not won on statistics. It is won on sentimental issues. BJP has a sentimental issue in Ram Mandir. For Opposition, there are two issues that can raise emotions. That is farmers' suicide and price rise. We should aggressively reach out to people on this. Anti-Modi rhetoric alone will not help. It will appeal only to Leftists, Ambedkarites and some other sections.

Who should, in your opinion, should lead the Opposition?

This election is fought under collective leadership. This election is all about Modi versus 'We The People'. It is Modi versus the youth of India.

How do you see the latest statements by Nitin Gadkari on leadership and responsibility, which is read as a veiled attack on Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah?

The BJP will explode given what Modi and Shah have done to other leaders. They are waiting for their time.

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