Jignesh Mevani. one of the three firebrand youth leaders that emerged on the political landscape of Gujarat along with Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor, entered electoral politics as an extension of his activism. He fought and won the Vadgam seat in North Gujarat in 2017 as an independent candidate, supported by Congress.
Jignesh Mevani since then has not only entered Congress but is one of the working presidents of the Gujarat Congress. He will be contesting the Vadgam seat again on a congress ticket this year.
Vadgam, a seat with a significant Dalit and Muslim population, was represented by BJP stalwart and Dalit leader Fakirbhai Vaghela in 2007, In 2012 Manilal Vaghela, a businessman won the seat for Congress. Miffed with Congress for having to sacrifice his seat to make way for Jignesh in 2017, Manilal left Congress and is now a BJP candidate against Jignesh Mevani.
Though an articulate and youthful Dalit face with bright political future, Jignesh Mevani will have to struggle hard to retain his seat at Vadgam.
As an MLA, he was effective and prompt in raising the issues of people. The oxygen plan he helped erect in his constituency through crowdfunding, to tackle the unfortunate situation of oxygen shortage the nation had witnessed during Corona epidemic bears testimony to his connect.
The Pushpa attitude of “Main Jhukega Nahi, Saala” was played to the gallery when a video grab of Mevani being taken away by Assam police from a Gujarat Circuit house at the midnight showed him imitatining the signature Allu Arjun mannerism for camera.
The Assam episode helped his stature to grow further as apolitician and as a Dalit leader and his own reaction to it only added the credence. It was now firmly perceived that Jignesh Mevani is a leader, important enough for the ruling class to try to intimidate. He was no longer an insignificant activist. That he was a sitting opposition MLA being taken away at midnight from a circuit house in Gujarat by police from another BJP ruled state 2500 kms away, did not earn BJP any points.
While BJP absorbed Alpesh Thakor and Hardik Patel in the fold, even giving them tickets for 2022 assembly elections, Jignesh Mevani is still hinged on his ideology and hopes tom overcome the immense electoral challenges he is to face in Vadgam this time.
BJP had been smart to deploy Manilal Vaghela, the former Congress MLA agaisnt Mevani. Both belong to two different dominant factions among Gujarat Dalits, Vankar and Rohits. This will result in division of votes.
To make the matters worse, AIMIM has fielded a Muslim candidate. AAP, the new force to reckon with, is also in the fray with Dalit face Dalpat Bhatia. This will step up the levels of hurdles in the way for Mevani in the SC reserved seat of Vadgam in Banaskantha district with 16.2 percent Dalit and 25.3 percent Muslim population.
Will Jignesh Mevani emerge a winner? Furure is pregnant with possibilties.