Jignesh Mevani expects more police cases before the assembly election
Of the triumvirate of Alpesh Thakore (OBC), Hardik Patel (Patidar) and Mevani (Dalit)- who spearheaded the agitation against Anandiben Patel —only Mevani remains outside BJP
Independent Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani is certain that more police cases will follow. After he was arrested by Assam Police at midnight for asking the Prime Minister to appeal for peace (go, figure it), flown to Assam and re-arrested on the bizarre charge of molesting a police woman, he is convinced that BJP and its governments are capable of much worse.
In May he was convicted by a Mehsana court, along with nine others, to three months’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1000 each for holding a rally without police permission five years ago in 2017. In June the sentence was suspended by a higher court but Mevani was directed to deposit his passport and not to venture out of the state without the court’s permission.
Ironically, the rally in 2017 was held to demand physical possession of land already allotted to a group of Dalits. The permission was first granted but later withdrawn. The rally was held and the land was eventually handed over to the allottees. But the majesty of the law must surely prevail?
Seven Dalit youth were subjected to inhuman treatment for skinning apparently dead cows, in Una town of Gujarat on July 11, 2016 with the perpetrators filming the act and sharing it widely on social media. The incident led to widespread outrage, and nationwide demonstrations with Mevani leading the protests in Gujarat. Twenty days later chief minister Anandiben Patel put in her papers.
Of the triumvirate of Alpesh Thakore (OBC), Hardik Patel (Patidar) and Mevani (Dalit)- who spearheaded the agitation against Anandiben Patel then—only Mevani remains outside BJP. The other two have joined the BJP. The pressure on Mevani therefore is immense to join his former comrades in their new home. But Mevani defiantly says he is not joining the Congress yet because he does not want to lose his seat in the Assembly. But he would do so at the first opportunity, he adds.
The Gujarat Government had been widely criticised for its Covid mishandling, when the state government pegged the death toll due to Covid at 10,000 but disbursed compensation to more than one lakh families. When Mevani set up a 13,000 litre oxygen plant in his constituency, the state’s Charity Commissioner froze the account of the NGO putting it up before the plant could be commissioned.
When Mevani moved the High Court seeking directions to the state government to allow him to use his MLA funds to create health facilities in his constituency, sensing the mood of the court the state government announced that all legislators could put their discretionary funds to such use. He felt like he was dealing with a hostile enemy government, Mevani had then quipped.
BJP’s familiar poll strategy has been to wean away key personnel from rival parties. In 2017, around the Rajya Sabha elections, 14 Congress MLAs including Shankersinh Vaghela quit the party. After the 2017 Assembly polls when Congress bagged 77 seats in a House of 182, another 13 Congress legislators were persuaded to join the BJP. Ashwin Kotwal and Keval Joshiyara, son of long time Congressman late Anil Joshiyara, recently joined the BJP.
“At this rate, BJP will have more ex-Congressmen than their own; setting out for a Congress-mukt Bharat, it has ended up creating a Congress-yukt BJP”, quipped a Congress leader.
(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)