Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani’s last-minute plunge into politics (he is contesting from Vadgam, a seat reserved for SC candidate) was accompanied by several good tidings.The Congress and AAP heeded to his appeal and have not nominated theircandidates for the seat. However, despite this, the seat that is dominated by Dalits and OBCs will not be a cakewalk for him. In the last three elections, the Congress won the seat twice (2002 and 2012), while the BJP won it once, in 2007 — Fakir Vaghela had won by a margin of 9,700 votes.To begin with, Mevani has to contend with the ‘outsider’ tag. He originally belongs to Ahmedabad. Moreover, he will have to battle the anger of Congress workers who have been working in the constituency for years, hoping one of their leaders would contest from there.Dinesh Parmar, a local Congress leader who had filed his nomination but had his form rejected after the party failed to give him a mandate, is not very happy with the party obliging Mevani.He claims to have been working in the area since 2007 and is not sure of supporting Mevani although the latter did meet him to seek his support.“The party has asked me to back him. I was earlier promised a ticket. I left my job to work for the party and the people, and now I’m left hanging at the last moment,” says Parmar.According to Parmar, Mewani contacted him on Wednesday for help with his campaigning. Parmar feels, Mevani’s ‘outsider’ tag may not endear him to voters.“Apart from Mewani, the BJP candidate is also an outsider for the Vadgam people. They are now wondering whom to choose, as they will be voting for candidates who don’t know their problem,” observes Parmar.He also wonders why Mevani chose to fight from this seat. Mewani did not take calls from DNA.Besides this, Mevani, unlike the Congress and the BJP, lacks organisational base that will help him in his campaign, for which he has less than a fortnight.Two days after filing his nomination, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him on November 28 for failing to respond to a court summons. That, his associates feel, was an attempt to get him busy with court dates and prevent him from campaigning.“This is a move by the ruling government to ensure that he does not get time to be among people,” said an associate of Mevani.
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Gujarat Election 2017: Vadgam to be tough battle for Jignesh Mevani