In his first Gujarat campaign for Lok Sabha elections Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani Wednesday attacked the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “model of development that has excluded Dalits, Muslims and others”.
“We have the technology to detect/determine if there’s water on Mars, but when will you get the technology to replace manual scavengers,” Mevani asked the BJP government at the Centre, while addressing a Dalit meeting on Vadgam-Patan road. Mevani was campaigning for Congress candidate for Patan constituency Jagdish Thakore.
Mevani said, “We have Vibrant Gujarat when big businesses/corporate houses — Ambani, Adani, Essar, Tata, Birla — are allocated thousands of acres of land, but not an inch has been received (as compensation) by the Una violence victims in Mota Samadhiyala (village), as had been promised by then chief minister Anandi Patel.” In July 2016, seven members of a Dalit family were attacked by a mob of cow vigilantes, in Mota Samadhiyala village.
“Naa behenein, naa baachiyaan, naa maatayein surakshit hai, Modi tere raaj mein sirf gai surakshit hai. (Under Modi, only cows are protected, not sisters, mothers and girls.) In the name of cow (protection), you murdered 35-40 innocent people,” he added.
On atrocities committed against Dalits, Mevani said, “Today Valjibhai Rathod has to fight as an Independent candidate from Gandhinagar. In a country that has 17-18% Dalit population, a 17- year-old Dalit is shot dead and his father has to contest elections (for justice).” Mevani’s remark pertained to a September 2012 incident when three Dalit youths were killed in a police firing in Thangadh of Surendranagar.
Diving into the history of the RSS, Mevani mocked at its purportedly newfound sense of nationalism. “Since 1925 (when RSS was founded), it has had a singular aim of (emboldening) these manuvadi takato (casteist forces),” said Mevani. “Under any circumstances, Hindus and Muslims must be divided in India so that (the likes of) Adani and Ambani jalsa kare (can enjoy). They have no other aim apart from this.”
He added: “While people were fighting and sacrificing themselves to drive the British away, what were the RSS people doing? Aa chaplusi karta the (They were busy being sycophants).” “Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are the direct descendants/heirs).”of this Sangh Parivar, the sycophants to the British. Today, they’re flying the flag of rashtravadi (nationalism) in the country. For someone, who hadn’t honoured the national flag at Nagpur (at RSS headquarters, until 52 years after independence), they are the ones giving certificates of who is a patriot (and who isn’t).”
Remarking that the elections were not about individuals but about protecting democracy and the Constitution, he said, “It is not about the win of some Jagdish (Congress candidate Jagdish Thakore) or some Jignesh Mevani. It is a matter of protecting the Constitution that established democracy in the country, resulting from the penance (tapasya) of BR Ambedkar and Sardar Vallabhai Patel, from the sacrifice of Sukhdev, Rajguru, Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad and Ashfaqulla Khan.”
Picking holes in the BJP’s common refrain of “development for all”, Mevani said, “They talk of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’, but it is minus Dalits and Muslims. Vijay Rupani talks of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’, it is but minus farmers and labourers. For Narendra bhai, ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’, means only for Adani and Ambani.”
Mevani also spoke of one of the most pressing issues in the country “In the entire country, in every street, there is only one question being asked – that of employment. Hu dar ek sabha ma kau chhu, ki eva mahan desh ma nirman karyu ki (I say in each of these gatherings that our country has become so great ), as of today, 84 crore people earn only Rs 20 per day. And 50 crore people don’t have a roof over their head. This is your (BJP) great model of development,” he said.
“You want to show development? Then instead of 100 days, provide employment for 300 days under NREGA,” he added. “Rojgaar je roj male e rojgaar kehwaye. (Employment can only be called so when one has work for all days of the year). They blow the trumpet of Vibrant Gujarat but they should be ashamed when eight lakh people apply for a 5,000 talati (clerical job) post vacancy. What vikas (development) are you talking about?”