Pune: Dalit leader and newly elected MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani on Monday dared the BJP to try and change the Constitution, saying he and other like-minded people would not let it happen.
Mevani was speaking at 'Elgaar Parishad' here, organised to commemorate the 'Battle of Bhima-Koregaon'. JNU student leader Umar Khalid, late Dalit research scholar Rohit Vemula's mother Radhika, Bhim Army president Vinay Ratan Singh and Prakash Ambedkar, former MP and grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar were present at the event.
Mevani, a first-time MLA who contested as an independent, said Dalits, minorities, farmers and marginalised sections of the society decimated BJP's ego in the Gujarat Assembly polls, bringing down its tally to 99 seats.
Referring to Union minister Anant Kumar Hegde's controversial statement about changing the Constitution, Mevani dared the ruling party to try and do it. "If you think of changing the Constitution and the democratic set-up of India, we too have the power to safeguard it," he said.
"All like-minded people, institutions, organisations will have to rise above their differences and unite against the BJP in the 2019 elections," Mevani said.
"We managed to crush their (BJP's) boast of winning 150 seats in Gujarat... if we fight together, we will be able to bring their tally to double-digit in 2019 (Lok Sabha) elections," he said.
"As elections in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are around the corner, I think all pro-poor people should come together. I am not interested in who will win the elections, I want the BJP to lose as they follow ideologies of Mussolini and Hitler," he said.
The Battle of Bhima-Koregaon was fought in Pune district on January 1, 1818, between the forces of the East India Company and the Peshwa. The British army, which had a large contingent of Mahars, a Dalit community, defeated the Peshwa's army, and some Dalit leaders and thinkers view it as a victory of oppressed classes over the upper-caste establishment of those times.