In Mevani, Gujarat poll springs up a dalit leader
ignesh Mevani, who was elected as an independent backed by the Congress, is among the leaders most discussed after the Gujarat assembly poll verdict. The journalist-turned-lawyer came into limelight when he launched a strong campaign following the controversial Una village incident.
A group of dalit youths who were involved in their traditional job of skinning a dead animal in Una were brutally assaulted by a mob on suspicion of a cow slaughter incident in July 2016. The youths were tied and flogged repeatedly. A video of this gruesome incident went viral, evoking strong condemnation all over the country. Jignesh Mevani then led a protest march, Dalit Asmita Yatra, from Ahmedabad to Una, which culminated on 15 August last year.
The protest march attracted the entire nation’s attention with many activists from various states participating in it. To protest against the inhuman treatment meted out to the dalits, Mevani asked the dalits to give up their traditional jobs of taking away the carcass from the villages or skinning the dead cattle.
Mevani’s movement caught the attention of people all over the country, earning him recognition as a dalit leader.
Patidar leader Hardik Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor and Mevani played a vital role in helping the Congress and Rahul Gandhi to give a tough fight to the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Gujarat polls. While Thakor won the assembly seat on the Congress ticket, 35-year-old Mevani won the Vadgam assembly seat as an independent, supported by the Congress.