New Delhi: Gujarat’s Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani has come out strongly in defence of Hardik Patel, who earlier this week was thrust into the centre of a controversy after a video allegedly showing the Patidar leader in the company of a woman was released.
The video clip has sparked debate over whether it should be treated as a ‘sex scandal’ or a matter of illegal surveillance.
In an open letter, Mevani alleged that the controversy was a conspiracy against Patel, who has been the one of the strongest challengers to the BJP government in Gujarat. Although he refrained from naming BJP, he said that “not just Patidars, but half of the six crore people of Gujarat know who can directly benefit from such a conspiracy.”
Even as political parties continue to maintain a conspicuous silence on the issue, Mevani is the first mass leader to come out and say that there was nothing wrong in consenting adults having sex and that those in power must ensure that people who leaked the video be brought to task for intruding into people’s bedrooms.
Mevani, who spearheaded a Dalit movement in the aftermath of a widely-circulated video showing Gau Rakshaks brutally flogging Dalit cattle skinners and has since then emerged as a mass leader, also highlighted the inappropriateness of such smear campaigns during elections.
“Such slander campaigns indicate how politics in our country has stooped so low. Diverting attention from actual issues has become staple in this dirty game. I believe the person in the video is not Hardik but even if he was, what is wrong in two people having consensual sex. By leaking such videos, the politicians neither care about the dignity of the woman not her privacy,” he told The Wire in Delhi where he addressed a press conference on 14 November.
He said that the BJP government should come tell the people what it thinks about illegal surveillance in private spaces.
Referring to the 2013 snoopgate controversy in which current BJP president Amit Shah, and prime minister Narendra Modi were alleged to have ordered the illegal surveillance of a young woman, Mevani wrote, “This is a shame for Gujarat and the country. The six crores Gujaratis should understand that the people who can ensure that the police, senior IPS officers and secret service can spy on a single woman for ‘saheb’ (Modi), then they can surely enter the bedrooms of people and keep a check on them.”
Training its guns on BJP and its supporters, who are circulating the videos, he further wrote, “When we are talking about 50 lakh Gujarati unemployed people, the victims of the GST and notebandi and demanding the government to give an account of its five years of governance; when we are asking what happened to the BJP’s promise that 50 lakh houses and 2 million jobs will be provided, then we are being kept busy with the so-called sex CD of Hardik Patel.”
He added that unless there were complaints raised about sexual harassment, there is nothing wrong in the video being circulated.
“To the people of Gujarat, I take this opportunity to say that we need to understand the citizen’s right now and see though the conspiracy. Those who are doing dirty politics by highlighting what goes on in someone else’s bedroom cannot make Gujarat proud any day,” Mevani signed off with this statement.
Mevani also tweeted his support to Patel before he wrote this open letter.
Dear Hardik Patel, don't worry. I m with you. And right to sex is a fundamental right. No one has right to breach your privacy.
— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) November 13, 2017
Earlier, almost a week before the videos were released on the internet, Patel told several media persons that the BJP may use a fake sex video to defame him before the elections. While the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader dubbed the video as “morphed”, he too said that this was insulting to women.