Kanhaiya Kumar and Jignesh Mevani to join Congress on September 28

Both the leaders had met Rahul Gandhi recently and sources say that talks have been finalised between these leaders and the Congress party
Last Updated : 25 September 2021, 18:11 IST

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Moving towards strengthening the organisation in two states and sharpen its social outreach, Congress will be inducting former JNU Student Union president and CPI leader Kanhaiya Kumar and young Dalit leader and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani on Tuesday (September 28), a move that is expected to strengthen the party in Bihar and poll-bound Gujarat.

September 28 is the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, whose legacy is claimed by all three-the Congress, the BJP and the Left. Rahul Gandhi will be present on the occasion of the induction of two leaders.

Kanhaiya's joining is a big catch for the party as it aims to revive its fortune in Bihar. Congress has been hurtling from one leader to another to infuse life into the state's party organisation. Kanhaiya, an ardent critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP, is known for his oratory skills.

Kanhaiya, who came into the political limelight after being booked in a sedition case when he was JNUSU president, contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls on CPI ticket against Union Minister Giriraj Singh of BJP from Begusarai. He lost by a margin of over four lakh votes but he got 2.68 lakh votes in his maiden Parliamentary election. He got more votes than RJD's Tanveer Hassan even as RJD had an alliance with Congress and some other Opposition parties.

Mevani, who announced in Ahmedabad on Saturday that he will be joining the Congress, won his first Assembly election from the Vadgam Assembly constituency in Banaskantha district of Gujarat in 2017 with the backing of Congress. Mevani's induction is expected to give the party a sharper edge in Dalit politics. Recently, the party gave Punjab its first Dalit Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.

Sources in Gujarat Congress said that state working president Hardik Patel has been mediating for bringing Mevani, 40, and Kanhaiya Kumar into the party fold. When contacted, Patel told DH, "Both are the kind of young leaders that the country needs. Rahulji (Gandhi) and all Congress leaders welcome them to the party. These youths will strengthen the party which carries the legacy of Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru."

Sources close to Mevani said that "the date of his joining may be changed to October 2." They said that for the past one month, talks were on with senior party leaders in Delhi on bringing the two young leaders into the party fold.

Chief spokesperson of Gujarat Congress Manish Doshi said Mevani's entry "will strengthen the party's fight against the corrupt policies of the BJP". "

Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, has of late given indications that it is not impossible for Congress to win there. The party reduced BJP's tally to just 99 seats in the 182-member state Assembly in 2017 polls. The Opposition in 2016 highlighted in a big way the assault on seven members of a Dalit family in Una town in the name of cow protection. The incident catapulted Mevani as the face of Dalit agitation in the state.

Patel will also attend the event in Delhi where Mevani will be inducted. It was the trio of Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor that tilted the balance in favour of Congress in 2017. Thakor, who had won as MLA from Congress, joined the BJP in 2019.

In Bihar's case, an AICC secretary with JNU background has played an important role in clinching the deal with Kanhaiya.

While there is speculation that Kanhaya could be made working President in Bihar, the particular AICC secretary said, "He wants freedom to work", but declined to go into the specifics.'

Kanhaiya has maintained silence on the issue. In recent times, Congress has brought in several young and talented leaders into its fold to shore its talent pool in different states, like Nana Patole in Maharashtra, Revanth Reddy in Telangana and elevating Navjot Sidhu in Punjab. The quiet generational change in the party is too conspicuous to ignore. Congress sources say that the induction of poll strategist Prashant Kishor is also a matter of time. Speculation about it has been rife since Kishor met the Gandhis in July this year.

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Published 25 September 2021, 09:10 IST

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