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Former JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar joined the Congress on Tuesday in the presence of Rahul Gandhi, saying the oldest party has to be strengthened to "save" the country.

Kumar addressed a press conference at the Congress headquarters here along with independent Gujarat MLA and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani who too extended his support to the Congress ideology.

Asserting that it is detrimental to a country's interests if the Opposition is weakened, Kumar described the Congress party as a "big ship" and said the small ships will be saved only when the Congress is saved.

"I have decided to join the country's oldest party and democratic party because I feel along with the lakhs of youths that if the Congress is not saved, the country will not be saved," he said.

Kumar, who was flanked by senior Congress leaders, said the country is "in danger" and "we need the courage of Bhagat Singh, equality of Ambedkar and unity of Mahatma Gandhi".

He also took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, describing him as "Govinda of our times who changes his clothes often".

Kumar had joined the Communist Party of India (CPI) ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election and had unsuccessfully contested from Begusarai in Bihar against Giriraj Singh of the BJP.

Mevani, who is currently a legislator in Gujarat and represents the Vadgam constituency, is the convener of the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch (RDAM).

He said there is a sense of urgency to save the country and the youth should create an atmosphere in this regard.

Mevani said he is not joining the Congress due to "technical reasons" as he is still an independent MLA, but announced that he will contest the next Gujarat election on the Congress symbol and will participate in all Congress activities and campaign for the 2022 Gujarat assembly polls.

He is a lawyer-activist and a former journalist. Mevani's entry into the Congress comes at a time when it is wooing the scheduled castes community after handpicking the first Dalit chief minister of Punjab.

Charanjit Singh Channi succeeded Amarinder Singh as chief minister of Punjab, seen as a bold step by the party for wooing back the scheduled castes, traditionally considered the vote bank of the Congress.

However, the party suffered a fresh setback in Punjab on Tuesday when state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned.

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