Former president of Congress’s Ahmedabad city unit, Chetan Raval, along with Mansukh Patel, who was party’s president of Halvad Municipality in Morbi, joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Ahmedabad on Monday.
Two others to join were daughter of former Congress chief minister Chhabildas Mehta and social worker, Nita Mehta, and Dalit writer and social worker Sunil Jadav.
Speaking to The Indian Express after joining AAP in presence of its national general secretary Indranil Rajyaguru, Raval said, “I am a disciplined soldier. I will do whatever the party leaders assign to me. Under the able leadership of Kejriwal, the party has performed well and produced results on parameters of health, education and employment. My approach aligns with theirs.”
Elaborating on the “successful track record” of AAP on education and health in Delhi and Punjab, he added, “He has taken concrete steps towards people’s welfare. To offer successful results on such issues, I am joining the AAP.”
Sunil Jadav, who has been teaching for 20 years, is an associate professor with the department of Gujarati at DK Kapuriya Arts and Smt SB Gardi Commerce College, in Rajkot, run by Shree BV Patel Charitable and Educational Trust. The trust is headed by state Agriculture Minister Raghavji Patel. Jadav attracted media attention in 2017 when he announced returning of Mahatma Phule Shreshtha Dalit Patrakar Award to the state government, protesting the atrocities against Dalits in Una in 2016.
The award was conferred on him in 2011-’12 for his contribution in the field of journalism by then BJP government in the state, led by Narendra Modi. The 48-year-old teacher was also a key member of Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani’s team during the protests following Una incident.
“I am thoroughly disillusioned by the lack of intention of the state government to end untouchability. After every act of atrocities committed on Dalits, be it not allowing a Dalit to ride a horse or grow moustache, government never took it seriously nor did it take any action to prevent such incidents,” Jadav told The Indian Express
He added, “On the other hand, Arvind Kejriwal has been promising that the AAP will protect people’s constitutional rights. Their government has already regularised the services of sanitation workers. So, I thought, joining active politics through AAP will help in my mission of ending caste-based discrimination and promoting social harmony.”
Mansukh Patel said that he decided to quit Congress as “that party has no organisation or micro-planning to recognise and reward party workers”. Patel, who joined the Congress in 1991 after graduating from college and was elected to Halvad Municipality in 1995, became the president of that civic body in 1997 and served till 2000.
His father Mahadev was also a Congress leader who served as the president of Halvad taluka panchayat. Mansukh sought Congress ticket to fight the 2012 Assembly election from Dhrangadhra constituency but the party prefrred Jayesh Patel, son of sitting MLA Hirabhai Patel, who lost to Jayanti Kavadiya of the BJP.
“I have been observing for the past three years that AAP government has kept the promises it had made to people of Delhi during election time. Arvind Kejriwal does what he promises. AAP is the party of the poor and small businessmen whereas BJP is the party of only select big businessmen,” Mansukh told The Indian Express.
The Congress “has lot of internal conflicts not just in Gujarat but also at the national level”, said Nita Mehta who worked with that party till April 2022. “No one listens to the issues within the party… there is no time to think about people’s welfare. There is no clear leadership at the national level. How can we win a battle without a commander,” Mehta said. Adding that she was impressed by the respect given to women by the AAP government in Delhi, Mehta said, “The free service for women in DTC buses is commendable. I appreciate the education system in schools there and mohalla clinics. I will do whatever work the party assigns to me.”