Dalit Leader Jignesh Mewani to contest in Gujarat polls as Independent, with Congress’ support

Gujarat Assembly Election 2017: The Congress, which holds the Vadgam seat in the outgoing assembly, is said to be assessing Jignesh Mevani’s request. It is yet to name a candidate from Vadgam, and sources said, it could well decide now not to field one

Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani on Monday announced his decision to contest the Gujarat polls from the Vadagam (SC) seat of Banaskantha district as an Independent candidate with outside support of the Congress.

The moves comes after sitting MLA Manibhai Vaghela said the state Congress asked him not to contest the polls from the seat “as a part of an agreement” with Mr. Mevani.

Mr. Vaghela said the Congress has given an indirect support to Mr. Mevani for Vadgam seat, reserved for a Scheduled Caste (SC) candidate.

“The party has asked me not to contest from the Vadgam seat this time. Though Mr. Mevani will contest the polls as an Independent, he will have Congress’ support. Thus, there won’t be any Congress candidate on this seat,” Mr. Vaghela told PTI.

Mr. Mevani on Monday announced that he will file his nomination as an Independent candidate for the Vadgam seat.

In a message posted on social media, the face of the Dalit agitation in Gujarat claimed that he decided to jump into the poll battle after being “persuaded” by youth and numerous agitators.

He even requested other opposition parties as well as aspiring independents not to file their papers.

“Since the ruling BJP is our key enemy, I request aspiring candidates of other parties and independents not to file their papers, so that we can have a direct battle with the BJP. This is people’s battle against dictatorship and we will continue our fight after winning this election,” he said.

Mr. Mevani will be in a direct contest with BJP’s Vijay Chakravarthi.

Earlier this month, Mr. Mevani had a meeting with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi during the latter’s visit to south Gujarat.

After the meeting, Mr. Mevani had said that the opposition party gave him an assurance that more than 90 per cent of his demands will be incorporated in its manifesto.


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