The Gujarat Police detained Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani on Friday night as a preventive measure to avoid any untoward incident while Narendra Modi was touring the state on his birthday. The police also detained Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Reshma Patel and 400 Dalit and Patidar activists.
Mevani was returning to Gujarat after attending the massive Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh Rally held in Delhi's Parliament Street. Sitaram Yechury, Radhika Vemula, and Bejwada Wilson were some of the other speakers at the event.
During his speech (video above), Mevani took on the NDA government's perceived anti-labour and anti-poor agenda. “The people who promote corporate houses and feudal casteist politics have a mann ki baat,” he said and added, "and we, who talk about the rights of workers and labourers, speak from the heart."
He reiterated his views that the Gujarat model of governance started by Modi during his tenure as the state's Chief Ministers was completely disastrous. He pointed out that before Modi came to power Gujarat's debt was Rs 25,000 crore, while today it is more than Rs 1,80,000 crore. And that despite close to Rs 90,000 crores being spent on the Narmada Dam project, "more than half of Gujarat is thirsty".
He urged the government to begin giving Dalits their rightful share of land, threatening a "rail rokho" movement in Gujarat starting October 1 if it's not done. He encouraged all the attendees to follow suit wherever they were, saying, “Let us create an environment that gives a strong opposition to Sanghis, Gau Rakshaks and Narendra Modi, who are dividing society along caste lines.”