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Gujarat polls: Not joining Congress, but ready to talk to Rahul on Dalit issues, says Jignesh Mevani

Jignesh Mevani said he is ready to hold talks with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to know the party's stand on various demands of the Dalit community.
Reported by: PTI Ahmedabad November 02, 2017 18:54 IST

Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, who has been critical of the ruling BJP in the state, today said he has no plans as of now to join the Congress or any other party.

At the same time, Mevani said he is ready to hold talks with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to know the party's stand on various demands of the Dalit community.

"I want to make it clear that neither have I joined Congress nor I am going to do so in future. Not just Congress, I have no plans of joining any other party as of now," the young Dalit leader told reporters here.

The remarks come even as the Congress and the BJP are making all efforts to win new block of voters and keep intact their traditional support base. The state goes to polls next month in two phases -- December 9 and 14.

Mevani, who has been leading the Dalit agitation in Gujarat following the Una Dalit flogging incident last year, said he was ready to have talks with Rahul Gandhi to know the Congress's stand on 17 demands of the community.

The demands include allotment of five acres of land to Dalits for farming, alternative employment to those who are involved in skinning of cattle and manual scavenging, and the release of a probe report into the firing on the community members at Thangadh in Surendranagar district in 2012.

"Since the BJP government is not even ready to hold talks with us about these demands, it is very clear that they are anti-Dalit," Mevani said. "And that is why we are also anti-BJP. But, that does not mean that we are joining another party."

"However, I am ready to meet Rahul Gandhi to know his party's stand on these demands. I want to know what they can do for our community if they come to power," he added.

Meanwhile, Jan Adhikar Manch president Pravin Ram held a meeting in Surat with Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki and state party in-charge Ashok Gehlot.

Formed by Ram, the Jan Adhikar Manch says it has been fighting for the unemployed youth, contractual workers, fixed-pay employees, aanganwadis workers (government-run women and childcare centres) and accredited social health activists (ASHA), as well as farmers.

Ram claimed if the Congress assures them to fulfil their demands, mostly pertaining to higher wages, better job opportunities, and better minimum support prices, the Jan Adhikar Manch may extend its support to the party.

"I have discussed issues concerning various sections of the society, such as unemployed youth, contractual workers and others. The Congress leaders sought two-days time to come up with their vision on these demands. If they give a positive response, we may definitely support the party," he said.