Looming threat to our democracy and Constitution: Jignesh Mevani

Mevani was speaking in Delhi at the Yuva Hunkaar rally called to demand the release of Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad. Photograph:( DNA )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 09, 2018, 12.31 PM (IST)

The real issues like poverty, corruption, and unemployment are being swept under the carpet while subjects like "love jihad" and cow protection are being given space, the new Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani said in Delhi on Tuesday. 

"We stand against that," he said. 

Mevani had thumbed his nose at the Delhi Police which had refused to give permission to his Yuva Hunkaar rally, called to demand the release of Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad, and had turned up at Parliament Street -- which is under prohibitory orders throughout the year -- anyway. 

There, he had shared the stage with JNU student leaders Kanhaiya Kumar, Shehla Rashid, and Umar Khalid. 

Assam farmer leader Akhil Gogoi and senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan were also present. 

Mevani attacked the Gujarat model at Parliament Street and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a "threat" to democracy and the Constitution. 

"The 125 crore people of this country are watching that someone is not being allowed to speak for merely demanding the release of Chandrashekhar Azad, effective implementation of the Constitution and two crore jobs to the youth," PTI quoted Mevani as saying. 

"If an elected representative does not have the right to do so, then this is Gujarat model," PTI quoted Mevani as saying to loud cheers from the crowd comprising student activists from Delhi, Lucknow and Allahabad, among other places.

Also read: Mevani not responsible for Bhima-Koregaon violence, says Union minister

The rally, which began around 1 pm, however saw a modest turnout because of heavy police presence. 

And till the very last minute, because of the lack of permission from the police, it was uncertain whether Mevani would attend the rally. PTI however reported that the police and the rally's organisers came to some sort of agreement later. 

At Parliament Street, Mevani said he would stand against the politics of hatred and stick to constitutional values and the "politics of love", similarly to what Congress President Rahul Gandhi had said after the Gujarat polls.

"I believe in politics of unity. I believe in politics of love, not love jihad. Alpesh Thakor, Hardik Patel and I are being targeted because we demolished their (BJP) pride and arrogance in Gujarat. There's a looming threat to our democracy and Constitution today," he added.

"You attack me as much as you want, I will stick to the Constitution," Mevani said. 

Also read: Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani win Gujarat elections but what has the Congress gained?

The rally, apart from seeking Azad's release, who was arrested from Himachal Pradesh in June last year since he is the main accused in the Thakur-Dalit clashes in Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur district, laid stress on issues like educational rights, employment, livelihood and gender justice.

Azad's supporters turned up with posters bearing his image.

Over 2,000 security personnel, including paramilitary forces, had been stationed in the capital because of the rally. 

Police had reportedly also deployed water cannons at the site of the rally.

The organisers had said that after the rally, a delegation would walk to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official residence, hand him a copy of the Indian Constitution and the "Manusmriti", and ask him to choose between the two.

(With inputs from PTI)