Ahmedabad, Oct 18: At least 120 seats in the fray in the forth coming Gujarat assembly elections would witness the impact of caste-based activists Jignesh Mevani, Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakur, the trio themselves claim. While Mevani (25) has emerged as a strong Dalit leader in the Una belt, Patel (23) is known for his Patidar movement which sent shockwaves to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2015. Thakur (40), an anti-liquor activist, has emerged as one of the strongest voices of the state’s Other Backward Classes (OBC).
The trio have launched a campaign against the Vijay Rupani-led BJP government in the state, dubbing it as “an oppressor of lower castes and classes”. “One needs to visit the slums and ghettos on the edges of metros to understand what kind of Gujarat model is this. Under this development model, there is no scope for quality education, healthcare and employment to the SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities,” said Alpesh Thakur, while speaking at the Aaj Tak’s Gujarat Panchayat.
Mevani, who has accused the BJP camp of acting soft against the alleged right-wing activists who targeted Dalits for skinning dead cows in Una district, claims the “lower castes will teach Vijay Rupani ji a lesson in the upcoming polls”.
Mevani further said he may contest against Rupani in the latter’s home constituency, “provided Hardik and Alpesh campaign for me”.
Patel, the convenor of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), said his community has not “forgotten the humiliation meted out towards them” during the agitation he led in 2015. “Our youths were killed in that agitation despite leading a peaceful protest. No matter what, Patidars cannot vote for the BJP in this assembly elections,” he added.