Gujarat Bypoll Result: Turncoat OBC Leader Alpesh Thakore Loses to Congress Candidate from Radhanpur
Thakore and Dhavalsinh Zala -- both former Congress MLAs who switched their loyalties to the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections -- contested the Assembly bypolls on BJP tickets but suffered humiliating defeats.
Ahmedabad: It was early Diwali for the Gujarat Congress on Thursday when results of the bypolls of six Assembly seats were announced -- the party won three of the six seats, including Radhanpur where turncoat Alpesh Thakore contested on a BJP ticket.
The Congress won the Radhanpur, Bayad and Tharad Assembly seats while the BJP emerged victorious in Amraivadi, Lunavada and Kheralu.
Joy was palpable on the faces of Congress leaders when it became evident that Thakore, losing since the early trends started coming in, was still trailing and never recovered.
Although results started coming in from all six Assembly seats, all eyes remained fixed on Radhanpur. As soon as it was clear that Thakore lost to Congress candidate Raghu Desai, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Amit Chavda emerged from his office and interacted with the media.
“The people have rejected turncoats and reposed their faith in the Congress. They are suffering from various issues like inflation and unemployment and the bypolls results are a reflection of it,” said Chavda.
Thakore and Dhavalsinh Zala -- both OBC leaders and former Congress MLAs who switched their loyalties to the saffron party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections -- contested the Assembly bypolls on BJP tickets but suffered humiliating defeats at the hands of Congress candidates.
“I lost due to caste politics but I will continue to work for the people of Radhanpur,” said Thakore, conceding defeat to Congress’s Raghu Desai.
The bypolls were held in Radhanpur, Bayad, Kheralu, Amaraivadi, Tharad and Lunavada Assembly constituencies. The by-elections in the first two seats were necessitated after Thakore and Zala resigned from the Congress party and defected to the BJP. Kheralu, Amraivadi, Tharad and Lunavada seats fell vacant after the BJP fielded its MLAs in the Lok Sabha polls and all of them won.
Thakore and his aide Zala, before switching to the BJP, had levelled serious allegations against senior Congress leaders and appeared confident of victory from their respective seats.
Thakore’s meteoric rise and fall
It was a meteoric rise leading to an epic fall for Thakore in Gujarat’s electoral politics.
The politician, who belongs to the numerically powerful Thakore community in North Gujarat, emerged as an OBC leader up against Patidar leader Hardik Patel who in 2015 launched a quota stir demanding reservation in jobs and education for his community members.
Before joining the Congress, the 43-year-old Thakore took up social reform issues, such as de-addiction and anti-tobacco campaigns, and later emerged as an anti-BJP youth leader. Just before the state Assembly polls in 2017, Thakore joined the Congress and won from Radhanpur.
His stature grew when the then Congress president Rahul Gandhi made him the party’s Bihar observer. But Thakore soon rebelled against the Congress and joined the BJP, along with his supporters, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year.
Before leaving the Congress, Thakore had posted his resignation letter to his official Facebook page, accusing the senior party leaders of “ignoring” members of his community. “Thakors have been cheated by the grand old party,” he had said.
In October last year, the BJP had accused the leader and his Thakore Sena of inciting anti-migrant riots in Gujarat. The attacks on migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar started following the rape of a 14-month-old girl.