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India


Kanhaiya joins Congress, Mevani swears allegiance

Kanhaiya joins Congress, Mevani swears allegiance

New Delhi, Sep 28 (UNI) Former students' leader Kanhaiya Kumar on Tuesday joined Congress, while independent Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani swore allegiance to the party even as he did not join formally, and said he would contest the next election on Congress' symbol.
Both leaders, who have emerged as popular faces against the policies of the BJP led government, met Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday.
Rahul Gandhi, along with Kumar and Mevani, paid tributes to freedom fighter Bhagat Singh on his birth anniversary at the Shaheed Park in Delhi. He however did not join the press conference later, where both Kumar and Mevani were welcomed in the party.
Several billboards congratulating Kumar covered walls and trees outside the Congress headquarter, and a number of supporters of both leaders also thronged the party office.
Introducing the two leaders, Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal called Kumar the face of 'freedom of expression'. He said Kumar and Mevani coming with the Congress will send out a message to the younger generation.
Kumar, a former president of Jawaharlal University Students' Union, had been a member of the All India Students' Federation, the oldest students' body in India and later fought the Lok Sabha elections from Begusarai on CPI ticket and lost.
Asked about his shift to Congress, he said: "I decided to join the oldest and most democratic party of India because youth feels if Congress is not saved, India can not be saved".
Asked about leaving the Left, he said: "I was born in that party. But the way they were working, there was a need to speed it up. There is a need to break the narrow mindset".
"Congress party is like a large ship. If it survives, all other smaller parties will survive," he said.
Mevani, who is a sitting independent MLA from Gujarat, meanwhile said he is joining the party ideologically, and not formally as it would cost him his seat.
"The story that started from Gujarat has wreaked havoc, we are going through an unprecedented crisis in the country. There is an attack on the idea of India, and on democracy," Mevani said.
He added that while he was not formally joining the party, he will contest next elections in Gujarat on Congress symbol.
Soon after Kumar joined the Congress, billboards sprung up in the national capital slamming Congress for taking in Kumar, who had faced sedition charges when he was in JNU. The billboards were erected by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) leader Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga.
Kanhaiya was accused of raising alleged “anti-national” slogans at the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus on February 9, 2016, during a protest action against the death sentence handed out to Afzal Guru, a convict in the 2002 Parliament attack case. He was arrested along with Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, and later released on bail.
He also fought the Lok Sabha election in 2019 on a CPI ticket from Begusarai but lost to BJP stalwart Giriraj Singh.
Mevani is an independent MLA from Vadgam constituency in Gujarat and convener of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch (RDAM).
His joining comes ahead of assembly elections scheduled in December 2022.
UNI AO SHK2015

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