BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Tuesday said that Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor “cannot dare to enter Bihar” following the recent protests against Hindi-speaking migrants in Gujarat. The BJP has been accusing Kshatriya Thakor Sena, an outfit led by the Radhanpur MLA, of fomenting anti-migrant sentiment in Gujarat in the wake of the arrest of a migrant labourer from Bihar for allegedly raping a toddler. A video of Thakor making provocative speeches against north Indian migrants had also surfaced then.
“He (Alpesh Thakor) cannot dare to enter Bihar after his conduct towards North Indians here in Gujarat,” Modi said during his visit to the Statue of Unity at Kevadia Colony in Narmada district.
“Locals should be given priority (in jobs), but it was also true that if Biharis leave Gujarat, factories in the state will shut down. People are free to migrate and work anywhere they want to, and nobody could stop them,” Modi added, referring to the exodus of north Indian migrants from Gujarat in late September and early October following incidents of attacks on them.
When told that the Congress MLA was scheduled to take part in Chhath festivities in Ahmedabad in the evening, Modi quipped, “Image cleansing wont help (Alpesh Thakor) anymore.”
Meanwhile, Thakor, who attended a Chhath Puja function on the banks of Sabarmati river in Shahibaug area of Ahmedabad in the evening, termed Bihar Deputy CM’s remark as unfortunate. “It is very unfortunate that on an auspicious day of Chhath, he (Modi) is using such language. He is speaking such divisive language while standing next to the Statue of Unity. It shows that he is not interested in uniting people… Like Gujarat is of Biharis, Bihar is also of Gujaratis. And I will be going to Bihar,” Thakor told The Indian Express.
Thakor said that he was pleasantly surprised by the love and affection showered to him by people from Bihar, UP and Jharkhand who were taking part in the Chhath festivities. “They said that they know me and do not believe things reported against me (related to the recent attacks on North Indian migrants). They even told me to contest Lok Sabha elections from Ahmedabad (East) constituency,” he added.
Notably, Ahmedabad (East) constituency has a significant number of North Indian migrant population.