Gujarat elections: Cong signals tacit pact with Mevani, leaves him seat in 3rd list
Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani will contest from Vadgam constituency in the Gujarat elections after Congress leaves the seat vacant in its third list of candidates for the assembly pollsUpdated: Nov 27, 2017, 18:25 IST
Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani will contest the Gujarat polls from the Vadgam seat as an independent candidate after Congress tacitly left the seat vacant for him. (Modi in Gujarat | LIVE updates)
Mevani announced his candidacy on social media on Monday, hours after Congress released its third list of 76 candidates early Monday.
Sitting Congress MLA Manibhai Vaghela told PTI that his party’s state unit had asked him not to contest the seat “as a part of an agreement” with Mevani.
Vaghela said the Congress has given an indirect support to Mevani for the Vadgam seat, reserved for a Scheduled Caste (SC) candidate.
“The party has asked me not to contest from the Vadgam seat this time. Though Mevani will contest the polls as an Independent, he will have Congress’s support. Thus, there won’t be any Congress candidate on this seat,” Vaghela said.
The party officially has not confirmed its support to Mevani.
Mevani too has not announced his support to the Congress. He, however, requested other parties not to contest the seat.
“Since the ruling BJP is our key enemy, I request aspiring candidates of other parties and independents not to file their papers, so that we can have a direct battle with the BJP. This is people’s battle against dictatorship and we will continue our fight after winning this election,” he wrote on Facebook.
Mevani, who shot to limelight after a Dalit family was flogged publicly by cow vigilantes for allegedly killing a cow last year, will be in a direct contest with BJP’s Vijay Chakravarthi if others do not file the nomination papers on Monday, the last day for the same.
Congress, meanwhile, has also left seats for Chhotubhai Vasava’s Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) and the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) of Hardik Patel.
Vasava, a JD(U) rebel who helped Congress’s Ahmed Patel win the Rajya Sabha polls earlier this year, said his party will contest on five seats on the symbol ‘auto-rickshaw’ in alliance with Congress.
Hardik Patel, who has led the Patidar agitation for inclusion of their community in the Other Backward Classes category, is yet to finalise the seats they will contest.
Congress had earlier announced the names of 86 candidates in two phases.
Party sources said some candidates have been informed over phone about them being given the mandate to avoid any backlash from other contenders.
Angry workers had attacked party offices at several places such as Surat after the first list was announced on November 19.
Many Congress rebels later filed the nomination papers against the official candidates, prompting the leadership to rush senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, B K Hariprasad and Mukul Wasnik to Gujarat to pacify them.
In another development, a close aide of Hardik Patel informed that the Patidar leader will hold rallies at Morbi and Surat at the same time Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses public meetings there.
Modi’s much-awaited Gujarat campaign starts on Monday with four rallies at Bhuj, Jasdan, Amreli and Surat in Kutch district. He will again visit Gujarat on November 29 and address four public meetings at Morbi, Somnath, Bhavnagar and Navsari.
Gujarat goes to polls in two phases — 89 seats on December 9 and 93 five days later. The results will be announced on December 18.
(With inputs from PTI)