Communist Party of India leader Kanhaiya Kumar joined the Congress on Tuesday and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani extended his support to the party. Party leader Rahul Gandhi attended the function at the All India Congress Committee headquarters in Delhi.

Mevani said that he cannot join the party as he was an independent MLA. Mevani had won the Vadgam seat in Gujarat in the 2017 Assembly elections as an Independent candidate.

“I could not join the Congress formally due to technical reasons,” he said. “I am an independent MLA, if I join a party, I may not continue as an MLA.”

Mevani had announced on September 25 that he and Kumar will join the Congress on Tuesday.

In an indirect reference to Bharatiya Janata Party members, Kumar said some people were trying to destroy the history, past and present of the country and that it needs to be stopped.

On his reason for joining the party, Kumar said he had read somewhere that a person needs to chose who he has to oppose and then he will find friends supporting him.

“I want to join this democratic party because I and lakhs of youth in this country feel that if Congress is not saved, this country will not survive too,” Kumar said.

He added: “Congress party is like a big ship. If it’s saved, I believe many people’s aspirations, Mahatma Gandhi’s oneness, Bhagat Singh’s courage, and BR Ambedkar’s idea of equality will be protected, too. This is why I have joined it.”

Kumar shot to national prominence after February 2016 when as president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union he was arrested and charged with sedition. A video purportedly showing him shouting slogans that were alleged to be seditious turned out to be doctored.

Kumar unsuccessfully contested the Begusarai seat in Bihar in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on a Communist Party of India ticket. He was defeated by BJP candidate Giriraj Singh.

Will fight upcoming polls in Gujarat on Congress ticket: Mevani

At a press conference, Mevani clarified that he will be a part of the Congress ideologically and attend its programmes but has to serve the people of his constituency. He said that he will fight the upcoming polls in Gujarat on a Congress ticket.

The Assembly elections in Gujarat are likely to be held in December 2022.

Mevani took a dig at the Centre for ignoring the farmer protest. He said that freedom fighter Bhagat Singh had defined revolution as giving the power to farmers and labourers. “But, [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi ji visits the Central Vista for inspection but does not meet farmers,” he added.

The MLA said also appealed to the youth, farmers and labourers to join the Congress.

He said that India’s Constitution, democracy and its idea need to be saved, adding that for this people need to stand with the party that contributed to the freedom struggle and chased away the British. “This is why I am here with the Congress today,” he said.

Ahead of the 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls, Mevani had emerged as a prominent face of the Dalit rights movement. He, along with Patidar community leader Hardik Patel and Thakor community leader Alpesh Thakor, had widely campaigned against the ruling BJP, despite not being affiliated to any Opposition party at that point.

Patel is currently the working president of Congress’ Gujarat unit. Thakor, who had joined the Congress in 2017, quit the party and joined the BJP in 2019.