By Aditya Aamir
Victimhood comes naturally to the Dalit. Jignesh Mevani understands this better than most. The Gujarat MLA has pitted himself willy-nilly against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Maybe he thinks that is the sure shot way to not only become the headline but also to make it big time.
Arvind Kejriwal took that trajectory. After launching the Aam Aadmi Party, he named himself AAP candidate for the Varanasi Parliamentary seat against Narendra Modi in 2014 and told the Varanasi electorate that he would trounce Modi in a most emphatic manner.
Varanasi chose Modi and Kejriwal had to wait till the Delhi assembly elections to redeem himself. But Kejriwal did not give Modi respite. He kept up the pressure and called Modi a psychopath and other names till the BJP beat AAP in the Delhi municipal elections, shutting Kejriwal up for good.
Now, Mevani is following in Kejriwal’s footsteps. Both the men share common traits in their style of politicking – a mixture of aggression and victimhood. Kejriwal was called the Congress Party’s B-team and Mevani is being accorded the same pride of place by media and rival politicians.
Both have an intensity in their eyes and in the manner of speaking. Their theatrics are reserved for the street and the podium. Kejriwal once slept in the middle of a road after calling himself an ‘anarchistic’. And Mevani told a crowd that the street is where revolutions are made, so revolutionaries should take to the street as the electoral system cannot overturn hierarchy.
If there is smell of rebellion there, then hold it right there because this ‘Dalit Icon’ is the Constitution man! Jignesh Mevani says he swears by the Statute and lives by the Constitution.
The Pune police have him in their crosshairs for allegedly inciting public harmony with firebrand words. He along with JNU’s Umer Khalid are the subject of a police manhunt. Why, asks Mevani after surfacing in the Press Club of India on Monday, two days after the Pune police said he was a person of interest.
The Independent Gujarat MLA held forth on how a recognized Dalit leader like him, who was an MLA and a lawyer who knows the law inside out, was being targeted because the BJP got stuck at 99 in Gujarat much to the dismay of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, who had pinned their hopes on 150.
Mevani’s detractors, who are there on the Republic channel, say he is aligned with the Congress and is the point of the trident Rahul Gandhi holds. The fact is whatever is cooking in the cauldron caste is very much an ingredient in the recipe.
And if Gujarat was an experiment, Maharashtra is the laboratory. Two days of caste politics on the streets of the state and Brahmin Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis faces a challenge. Not only are the Marathas arrayed against him, now the Dalit, too, has taken position against the beleaguered CM. The violence of two days has damaged state infrastructure and done damage to the CM’s image and prospects as well.
Dalits, who account for 10 percent of Maharashtra’s population, are angry at Fadnavis and Modi for being neglected by the ‘Brahmin CM’. With the likes of Mevani spearheading the Dalit surge for dignity and equality, the Congress Party is sitting back and watching the BJP squirm.
Jignesh fits perfectly into the Congress arithmetic. He turned up at the Delhi Press Club with a “Rahul cohort”, who hounded by “pro-BJP media” had to run for his life with Mevani in tow. Before that Jignesh informed media he would turn up at the PMO in “a couple of days, around 4 pm, with Manusmriti in one hand and the Constitution in the other” for Modi to choose.
The Gujarat MLA is believed to have been outsourced the task of gathering the Dalit flock under the Congress fold for the 2019 general elections. But with Mevani directly challenging Modi, asking the Prime Minister to “come out and open his mouth” on the many issues facing the nation, he might end up as a more credible challenger to Modi than Rahul. The janeoudhari Rahul Gandhi cannot claim victimhood but Jignesh Mevani the Dalit icon can.(IPA Service)