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Cong's Alpesh Thakor Exchanging Greetings With BJP Leader Only a Chance Meet? Many Think Otherwise

Last week, Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel told reporters he would personally be very happy if Thakor joined the BJP

Meghdoot Sharon | CNN-News18

Updated:January 25, 2019, 10:45 PM IST
Cong's Alpesh Thakor Exchanging Greetings With BJP Leader Only a Chance Meet? Many Think Otherwise
File photo of Congress leader Alpesh Thakor

Ahmedabad: Earlier this week, Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor was participating in a rally when he “bumped into” BJP leader and archrival Shankar Chaudhary.

They exchanged greetings in full public view. Later, both gave statements in the media that this was only a chance meeting and nothing more should be read into it.

Last week, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel told reporters he would personally be very happy if Thakor joined the saffron party.

BJP insiders say Thakor has met a close associate of party president Amit Shah at least twice in the last month.

If the Congress got its strategy before the 2017 Gujarat assembly election by roping in three young turks — Thakor, Jignesh Mewani and Hardik Patel, who became the faces of OBC, SC/ST and Patidar votebank, respectively, in Gujarat, the BJP appeared to be much better prepared to handle caste politics ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.

While the 10% additional quota for upper castes has soothed Patidar nerves, the biggest dent that the BJP has inflicted on the Congress ahead of the general election is its attempt to woo over the OBC votebank.

First, it got Congress’ OBC strongman Kunvarji Bavaliya, who enjoys unflinching support of the Koli community, to cross over.

And now, it appears as if Thakor, the firebrand leader of the Kshatriya Thakor Sena, might also switch sides ahead of the general election.

Thakore, meanwhile, was completely non-committal about his future political moves. Embarking on an ‘ekta yatra’ in which he will pass through about 25 districts, he said he was not happy with the way things were functioning in the Gujarat unit of the Congress.

Asked what compelled him to launch the yatra, he said, “This is not political in nature. This is a reply to those who have been saying that Alpesh Thakor no longer enjoys the support of the Thakor community.”

He also reiterated the point that he has been making over the past fortnight or more that his disgruntlement was not against any Congress leader but against the way the party was being run.

“I have stated this to the party president as well. Young deserving leaders ought to be given their due in the party and I am not referring to myself. I already have been rewarded adequately. I have made several demands for the people of the Thakor community. They are being ignored. What is the point of Alpesh Thakor getting a place in Delhi if the issues of his supporters are not addressed?”

But many in the Congress were already of the opinion that Thakor was acting like the B-team of the BJP.

A senior Congress leader told News18, “He has been making vague demands. This appears to be a deliberate effort by him to create an atmosphere that Thakor s are not being given justice and then use it as a springboard to join the BJP. I think the sooner he joins the BJP, the better for the Congress. This is a situation exactly like the one Shankersinh Vaghela put the Congress into before the 2017 assembly election.”

Sources said it appeared as if Thakor was keen on a ministerial berth in the Gujarat government and had indicated to the BJP leadership that at least two or three MLAs from north Gujarat would also quit with him.

The arrangement that was being worked out was that he could quit the Congress before the general election and while he and his supporters would ensure a win for the BJP candidate from north Gujarat, Chaudhary would work to ensure that he got re-elected to the assembly with the support of the BJP cadre from a seat in North Gujarat.

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