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  Opinion   Interview of the Week  16 Jul 2018  ‘Together, Mayawati and I can build a pan-India dalit movement’

‘Together, Mayawati and I can build a pan-India dalit movement’

Published : Jul 16, 2018, 5:53 am IST
Updated : Jul 16, 2018, 6:32 am IST

I am four times more popular than Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, but I don’t have a car of my own, says Jignesh Mevani.

Jignesh Mevani
 Jignesh Mevani

Independent MLA from Gujarat’s Vadgam and dalit youth icon Jignesh Mevani is going to ‘approach’ Bahujan Samaj Party supremo and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati to elicit her help in fulfilling his commitments to his electorate, and especially in building a nationwide dalit movement in the country in the context of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In an interview to Bala Chauhan, Mr Mevani said that he desires to work for the poor and the underprivileged, but has neither the resources nor the platform that Ms Mayawati inherited from the late Kanshi Ram.

You are the newest face of the dalit agitation and youth icon from Gujarat who won the last Assembly elections with over 19,000 votes against BJP nominee Vijay Chakravarti. Why do you need to meet Mayawati?
I need Ms Mayawati’s help in building a nationwide dalit movement and fighting the fascist forces in the country in the face of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. I am four times more popular than Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, but I don’t have a car of my own. There are big expectations from me and I sincerely desire to work for them, the poor and the underprivileged. Unfortunately, I neither have the resources nor do I have any political party structure to do so. Nobody can doubt my integrity. Not even the BJP.

Barring Ms Mayawati, all the other top Opposition leaders, from Rahul Gandhi to Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav to Arvind Kejriwal and leaders from the CPI and CPI(M) have met me. I am going to approach her soon.

Why do you think she has not met you so far? Could it be because both of you are the prominent faces of the dalit movement in India?
I don’t know why she has not met me so far. I will approach her now. Circumstances and history have entrusted me with three huge tasks: to create a solid nationwide dalit movement, to contribute in the struggle against fascist forces in the country in the context of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and to develop Vadgam.

Unfortunately, I am finding it very difficult to fulfil any of my commitments in the absence of resources. I didn’t inherit the kind of platform that late Kanshi Ramji had left behind for Ms Mayawati. I am willing to support her joint election campaign for the Parliament elections with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh on the condition that she is ready to take up cudgels against the BJP.

We recently saw a mammoth show of strength of the grand alliance — Mahagathbandhan — of non-NDA parties at the swearing-in of Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy. Do you envisage the same show of strength of the grand alliance in 2019?
If the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka had entered into a pre-poll alliance they would have won more than 150 seats easily. The biggest problem with the non-NDA parties is their personal greed. The mainstream political parties, which have been in power, are not coming up with any positive and proactive agenda of their own. The youth of this country are disillusioned in the face of growing unemployment. But which political party, that is opposing the BJP, has come up with an idea of assuring jobs for the youth? The greed for personal power is the biggest obstacle in the grand alliance. Let there be differences among the parties, but we need to sink them to collectively face the threat from the BJP.

You were very close to late editor-cum-activist Gauri Lankesh. What are your comments on the arrests made by the Karnataka SIT in the case?
I am glad that the Karnataka police has arrested some of the accused in the Gauri murder case, but why are they not bringing out the motive behind her murder? Why is the SIT silent on naming the organisation and the chief conspirators, who planned and executed her murder? Upon whose instructions was she killed? Is the police keeping silent intentionally? Gauri was like a mother figure to me. She lovingly used to impose her authority on me and made sure that I stayed with her each time I visited Bengaluru. Her murder is a huge personal loss to me. It’s also a big loss to the civil society and the progressive movement in India, especially in Karnataka. The conspirators behind her murder had reportedly prepared a hit list of 15-20 people. The state should provide them with adequate security immediately.

You have mentioned somewhere that you fear for your life...
Last month, the fugitive underworld don, Ravi Pujari called me thrice on my personal mobile number and threatened to kill me. I have lodged several police complaints and have repeatedly asked the Gujarat police to upgrade my security. I am being threatened on the social media, but I have been only given one armed guard, whose movement is restricted within Gujarat. I travel extensively in the country on invitation. My life is under threat. If I am killed the Gujarat government will be very happy.

Tags: jignesh mevani, 2019 lok sabha elections, mayawati