Union minister Giriraj Singh on Saturday trained his guns at Jignesh Mevani, who has been canvassing for his CPI rival Kanhaiya Kumar in Begusarai, blaming the young Dalit leader from Gujarat for the attacks on migrants from Bihar in the western state last year.
An indignant Mevani hit back saying he would sue the BJP leader for defamation and alleged that in the backdrop of the "silence" of the ruling BJP in Gujarat, during the anti-migrant violence, Girirajs outbursts were tantamount to "ulta chor kotwal ko daante" (the thief reprimanding the policeman).
"What is this Jignesh Mevani doing here in Begusarai. He was involved in attacks on Biharis who were forcibly driven out of Gujarat. He abetted those responsible for the dishonour that our mothers and sisters had to suffer in that state," Singh who reached Begusarai on Friday after spending several days in a sulk over not getting a chance to seek re-election from his Nawada seat - tweeted.
"I am going to lodge a defamation case against Giriraj Singh. He has the nerve to blame me when his party, which is in power in Gujarat, was solely responsible for the unfortunate events that took place there," Mevani told PTI over phone from Begusarai.
"I had openly condemned the role played by Vijay Rupanis government and questioned the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had ruled Gujarat for long and owed his rise to national prominence in a large measure to the love and affection he received from the Hindi belt," he said.
Mevani, who shot to fame with the massive stir he had launched in Gujarat against atrocities committed by cow vigilantes on Dalits engaged in the profession of skinning of dead cattle, has been camping in Begusarai for three days, canvassing in favour of the former JNU students union president, often leaving the local populace touched with the smattering in local dialect that he has picked up.
Currently an Independent MLA in Gujarat, Mevani also pointed out "I was, in fact, actively involved in the efforts to protect migrants from RSS-backed goons. We had come out in support of the drive launched by Hardik Patel, who had issued a helpline number."
"I had tendered apologies on behalf of the people of Gujarat when I came to Patna in October last year to take part in a CPI rally. I did so because I felt revulsion towards the apathy shown by Rupani and Modi whose silence displayed a sense of thanklessness for the migrant workers who have toiled to make Gujarat what it is. Giriraj has left me appalled," he added.
"Anybody can check on youtube. I spoke for just a few minutes but must have used the term 'namak haram' for Modi about a dozen times, in the context of the anti-migrant violence," Mevani said.
Asked whether he thought the Union minister had confused him with Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor, who has often been blamed for the attacks on migrants, Mevani said "it could be. But as someone who has seen it all with his own eyes, I can vouch that even he was being made a scapegoat. It was all at the behest of the BJP-RSS combine".