I can feel what you went through in your past because it is always difficult for a Dalit boy to pursue something. People never digest our achievements.
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
Congratulations Jignesh Mevani. Your victory will inspire all the Scheduled Caste youths. To many of us, Jignesh is a fighter not because he fought and won these elections, but because of continuing assertion against upper caste supremacy. He became the face of Dalit agitation in politics. His spirit of agitation is evident in the constant change and non-conformity, and later raising his voice against the “Una Kaand”. Then he stepped into campaigning and became a face of national Dalit politics for many.
But in the national media coverage, Jignesh was always overshadowed by Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor.
I don’t know this conclusively, but I think there are two possibilities why he was always avoided by the media: either he is projected as a “dalit/sufferer” whom people don’t want to give a chance or because he is the sharpest, most educated among all three and he knows what to talk and what not.
Jignesh, I believe, your voice has a spark and a pain.
I can feel what you went through in your past because it is always difficult for a Dalit boy to pursue something. People never digest our achievements. Even my journey from a bachelor’s degree to PhD was not simple, because we have to battle bias at every stage.
Your political masterstroke took you to victory.
However, your constant support for Alpesh Thakor and Hardik Patel did raise questions. Your silence on the violence led by these two leaders is a problem for me.
Because there was no connection between what happened in Una versus the Patel agitation. So why Jignesh supported Hardik Patel remains a big question for me. He has all the qualities of a leader but I do fear somehow toward the end you may lose the topic originally being fought. Your silence on “other rioting” by compatriot leaders — by Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor — will destroy this image.
Somewhere in the journey from Una to Vadgaon, your politics and fire got diluted.
Positively, the Dalit society needs leaders like you. Generally, people pursue their higher education, get a job and seek to lead happy, comfortable lives. You chose to fight for others, fight for those who are unable to. It requires great courage to raise our voice.
Health, education and equality are the priority for all and I believe in it. We have to achieve higher education. Then and only then can we fight for our rights. Babasaheb said, “Ours is a battle not for wealth, nor for power; ours is a battle for freedom, for reclamation of human personality.”
We still have a long way to cover to become equal. Jignesh has a vision, which brings changes in society. I hope he will use his power for the betterment of all humankind, especially the most oppressed.
Tushar Chauhan is a Dalit PhD student of genetics and lives in Ahmedabad.
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