Can’t be bought over: Jignesh Mevani’s message in his poll pitch | Political Pulse News,The Indian Express

Talks about rising prices, his arrest by “intolerant” BJP, and felicitation of Bilkis convicts: “Is this the Gujarat of Sardar Patel?”

It is minutes to go for the arrival of Jignesh Mevani, and the singers are building up the tempo, mixing the song with accounts of the Dalit MLA’s struggles against the BJP and its top leaders Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Mevani, the sitting MLA from Vadgam in Banaskantha district, who won last time as an Independent and is now contesting on a Congress ticket, takes up the theme as he arrives at Memadpur village. Legislators were bought over for “Rs 5, 15, 25 crore”, he says. “But I can say proudly that I did not break the trust people of Vadgam put in me.”

Mevani may only be a one-time MLA, but as one of the most popular Dalit faces of Gujarat, who rose to prominence in the wake of the Una Dalit assault of 2016, he is among the star campaigners on the Opposition side. Appointed the Congress’s working president ahead of the Assembly polls, he is young (42), articulate, passionate in his attacks on the BJP, and the only one of the 2017 campaign’s young turks in the party’s ranks – the other two, Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor, are now both in the BJP.

On Tuesday, Thakor, an OBC leader who in 2017 fought as a Congress candidate, campaigned in Vadgam for the BJP. Asked about this, Mevani simply grins.

In his interactions, mostly in small groups, Mevani focuses on issues like rising prices, unaffordable health facilities, paper leaks delaying government recruitments, farmers’ debt and the BJP’s intolerance for contrary views. With the Congress the sole party to raise the release of the Bilkis Bano case convicts as a poll issue, Mevani brings that up. Lastly, he talks about his agitation to get the Narmada water to the local Mukteshwar dam and Karmavat lake, and again, promises to “remain loyal”.

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