Dalit leader plans a national platform for youth to raise their voice. He also wants his constituency Vadgam to become a new ‘model’ for development.
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s winning run can only be countered by questioning the NDA government’s performance on the economic front, independent Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani said.
“We can only challenge the BJP on its economic agenda and unemployment. I am working to create a national youth platform in a month’s time, where we will raise issues related to the youth across the country,” Mevani said in an interaction at ThePrint office Monday.
Mevani, who has emerged as a modern day Dalit political icon, insisted that his proposed platform will “appeal to the youth from all sections of the society”.
The 37-year-old activist also spoke about uniting the opposition against the BJP and about raising issues which had a broader mass appeal. Here are some of his statements from the interaction:
On what helped him win
“I always raised the Prime Minister’s promise of 2 crore jobs per year. Forget about 8 crore, even 10 per cent of it has not been delivered. The people connected with this issue. I am going to make this pitch stronger in the coming days.”
On aligning with others for winning elections
“I can’t remain stuck to my ideology and let the BJP win all the elections. All political parties and activist groups who want to topple the BJP should join hands.”
On the evolution of Dalit politics
“Why can’t Dalits protest against issues such as public health and education? Coming together only after atrocities is not the right approach. Dalits should feel part of the larger society and accordingly fight for rights.”
On today’s Dalit political leaders
“It is unfortunate that leading Dalit faces of the country today have aligned with the BJP for political gains, and are not interested in working for issues concerning Dalits. That’s why people like Jignesh Mevani and Chandrashekhar Azad are becoming popular, and you see the youth attracted towards us.”
On not getting support from Mayawati’s BSP
“Behenji campaigned for Narendra Modi in the 2002 elections. Her party has even formed governments with the BJP. Still, they question us on our politics.”
On being linked to student leader Umar Khalid
“There is a vicious campaign to link me to some organisation and show that I am ‘anti-national’. But I will keep fighting for the youth of this country, including Dalits.”
On triple talaq
“How can a person end a relationship in a progressive society by just saying ‘talaq talaq talaq’? But I don’t trust this government on legislation.”
On his vision for his constituency Vadgam
“I want to build my own Vadgam model of development. I invite all activists, research organisations, NGOs etc to come to my constituency and train people, so they know what issues they can raise with whom, and where they have to go to complain and get things done. We welcome experts in any field – farmers’ issues, RTI activists, artists – to share their expertise with the people of Vadgam, so that it can become a model constituency. We all have a lot to learn.”