New Delhi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday met Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and assured him that the demands proposed by the community would be included in the Congress Party’s election manifesto. Mr Mevani, who met the Congress vice-president at Navsari in Gujarat, told the media that Mr Gandhi had said 90 per cent of the demands made by Dalits in the state were not demands, but constitutional rights.
After the meeting, Mr Mevani, convener of the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, and Mr Gandhi took part in the Congress’ Navsarjan Yatra. On Thursday, Mr Mevani had denied having joined any party. He had said he would meet Mr Gandhi only if the Congress was ready to discuss its stand on demands put forward by the Dalit community.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Gandhi, star campaigners for their parties, wooed the Patel community in Gujarat. While Mr Gandhi led an aggressive pitch, invoking Sardar Patel, asking the community to defeat the BJP in the Assembly polls, Mr Modi attended the silver jubilee celebrations of the Akshar-dham temple of the Swaminarayan sect. Most of the followers of the Swaminarayan sect are Patels.
With help from Patidar leader Hardik Patel, the Congress is trying to woo the Patels, who have been traditional supporters of Mr Modi and the BJP. They constitute around 12-14 per cent of Gujarat voters and are believed to be unhappy with the BJP over the reservation issue.
Mr Gandhi invoked Sardar Patel and Mahat-ma Gandhi. He said just like these two leaders brought the British to their knees, now was the time for the six crore people of Gujarat to root out the BJP.
He said the Gujarat election was a fight between truth and lies. “On one side, it is Gujarat’s people, on the other some industrialists,” Mr Gandhi said....