Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani asked Prime Minister Narendra Modito choose between an ancient Hindu legal text and India's Constitution, at a rally in New Delhi on Tuesday. Mevani lamented what he called an unprecedented "state of crisis," and told his audience they were fighting "fascism." The Dalit leader, who ran unopposed by the Congress in the Gujarat assembly election, defended himself against allegations that he instigated violence in Maharashtra's Bhima Koregaon. The Pune Police had registered an FIR against Mevani in connection with the incident.
Here's a brief overview of Mevani's fiery speech at the Yuva Hunkar rally, in ten points.
NOBODY THINKS I'M GUILTY: "I have been charged with instigating violence (in Bhima Koregaon). Nobody believes that," Mevani said, days after the Pune Police received a written complaint about his and activist Umar Khalid's "provocative comments" at an event in Maharashtra. "Due to Mevani's comments, tension has erupted in (the) state between two communities," the complainants wrote.
STITCHING PEOPLE TOGETHER: Jignesh Mevani's election symbol was a sewing machine. He alluded to it today at the Yuva Hunkar rally, in a message of unity. "I am a sewing machine man. I have come to stitch people together," he said.
LANGUAGE OF LOVE: Mevani said he - and others with him - wanted to save the Constitution and democracy. "The BJP can charge us with fake cases, but we will continue to stand for Constitution and speak the language of love," he said.
QUESTIONNAIRE: Mevani had a battery of questions for Modi - questions that he said he would ask "in the Gujarat Assembly and on the streets." Some examples: Why was Akhil Gogoi charged under the National Security Act? Why was Rohith Vemula killed? Why is Najeeb missing? Why weren't Indians' bank accounts credited with money recovered from illegal overseas stashes, as Modi promised during the 2014 general election campaign? Why did Bhima Koregaon happen?
LAND RIGHTS: Mevani said the BJP was trying to distract from real issues, and asked for land rights for adivasis and Dalits.
ON 'LOVE JIHAD' AND COWS: Mevani and others with him stood against the way in which ghar wapasi, love jihad and cows were being given space, ANI quoted the MLA as saying.
MANUSMRITI VERSUS SAMVIDHAN: Mevani asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to choose between the Manusmriti and the Consitution. "What are you going to choose? There is the Manusmriti in one hand and the Constitution in another." "The people standing here are holding the Constitution," he told his audience.
The Yuva Hunkar rally was also attended by former JNU students' union leaders Kanhaiya Kumar and Shehla Rashid, JNU activist Umar Khalid and popular Assam leader Akhil Gogoi.