Jignesh Mevani says he will ask Karnataka’s Dalits to not vote for BJP
Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani on Wednesday said he would appeal to all Dalit groups in Karnataka to not vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the May 12 assembly elections in the state.
Mevani was participating in a protest against the deaths of Dalits during the Bharat Bandh on Monday. “I am going to appeal to every Dalit group that not a single vote should go to BJP. I will do the same in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh… because the BJP is completely casteist, communal and fascist,” the legislator from Vadgam in Gujarat said.
Mevani said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to generate 20 million jobs every year but was now firing bullets at Dalits. “The country will not forgive you,” he said.
Citing health problems, Mevani said he would not be able to campaign extensively in the state. “We will ensure that these fascist forces are thrown into the dustbin of history lock, stock and barrel,” he said. However, he added, that he would not advise Dalits on which party they should vote for, “but we must defeat this casteist and communal BJP”.
Regarding the Supreme Court order perceived by some as diluting the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Mevani said this was a clear encroachment by the judiciary into the jurisdiction of Parliament.
“In India, there is an atrocity every 15 minutes...,” he said. “Considering the fact that every dimension of life in India is brutally distorted by the phenomena of caste, the apex court should have refrained from such statements, and should have definitely refrained from rewriting the Act.”
“I do not justify violence. But to the best of my information out of the 11 who died, nine were Dalits. This is an indicator of the feudal system we live in,” he added. Mevani was referring to the violence that accompanied the Bharat Bandh called by Dalit organisations against the Supreme Court order on the SC/ST Act.
Mevani said Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that no previous government had respected BR Ambedkar as much as the current one. “I say that no other government has insulted Ambedkar more. We asked for jobs and you have given us bullets. This is the Gujarat model.”
Responding to Mevani’s statements, state BJP spokesperson S Prakash said the Dalit leader had made similar claims in Gujarat. “Was he able to defeat the BJP there?”
Prakash said it was a democracy and everybody was free to air their opinions. “Everybody has the freedom to campaign against anybody. Let him campaign, we will see when the results are out,” he said.