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Jignesh Mevani is a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) in Gujarat. Contesting as an independent candidate from Vadgam constituency with support from the Congress, Mevani was the Dalit face of Rahul Gandhi’s challenge to BJP in the Gujarat Assembly elections 2017.
Born on December 11, 1982, in Ahmedabad district of Gujarat, Mevani did his schooling from Swastik Vidyalaya and Vishwa Vidyalay Madhaymik Shala in the district. He completed his graduation in English literature in 2003 from HK Arts College in the same city and received a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication.
A lawyer by profession, Mevani has had a hot and cold relationship with the Congress in the past. Initially, Mewani was reluctant to be seen with the Congress but later decided to rally behind the party as the polls approached. He contested against Chakravarti Harkhabhai of the BJP, among others.
Mevani has been at the forefront of Dalit agitation against the Narendra Modi government and BJP in the past few years. After an attack on Dalit men in Una village of Gujarat’s Saurashtra region by members of a cow-protection group, protests broke out across the state. Mevani led a protest march called Dalit Asmita Yatra from Ahmedabad to Una which was attended by over 20,000 Dalits.
Mevani's rise in national politics, however, is not simply a factor of his rising popularity and potshots at Hindutva politics. Backward castes are emerging as an electoral force to reckon with — they comprise 6.7 per cent of Gujarat's population, but nationally the figure is higher at over 16 per cent. In recent years, India has lacked a credible face that could possibly mobilise this massive population, especially with Mayawati's diminishing image amid charges of corruption and focus singularly on Uttar Pradesh weakening her sway as a national leader.