In a major relief to the Congress in Gujarat, which faced embarrassment with the resignation of its two MLAs in the last 24 hours, party MLA Alpesh Thakor on Saturday said that he has decided to remain with the party as he “can stay without power, but not without respect”.
Thakor, who had gone incommunicado for the last few days amid speculation that he may quit the Congress to join the ruling BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, appeared before the media here and said that though he desires to become a minister, he has “chosen the path of struggle which is full of difficulties”.
“I can stay without power, but not without respect. I cannot accept if someone says that I can sell myself or I am greedy. So, I am saying that we have chosen the path of struggle which is full of difficulties. We will fight for the poor, unemployed, farmers, OBCs and SC/STs. Alpesh Thakor is now clear. I want to fight for my people and so I will stay with the Congress and will support the party. This will ensure that nobody will taunt me or my people that he was greedy or he wanted to be a minister. I want the respect and rights of my people and therefore we will struggle for it,” Thakor, an OBC leader who had joined the Congress in the run-up to the 2017 Lok Sabha elections, said.
The 43-year-old leader, who represents Radhanpur Assembly seat, said that he was “no more confused” and took the decision to stay with the Congress after “listening to the voice of people”.
Referring to Congress turncoats being made ministers in the BJP government, Thakor said, “The manner in which there is a move of MLAs to switch parties, I want to tell you that everyone likes power. I also want it for my people. With that power, I believe I can do something for my people. Who does not like to be a minister? Everyone does. Anyone sitting here would readily accept ministership, if offered. I also want to be a minister. One day, such a thought crossed my mind. I, too, thought of becoming a minister… But, I am not running after power. If I had wanted power, then I would have become a minister, six months ago. I do not want that power where issues of poor are not talked about and I can do nothing for them… When I thought I will become a minister by joining the (BJP) government, I also thought about the 25 lakh people who had given me a mandate in 2017 (Assembly elections) to be with the Congress,” Thakor said on a day when Javahar Chavda, one of the two Congress MLAs who had resigned from the Congress on Friday, was made a Cabinet minister in the BJP government.
He, however, said that some of the youth of his community would be unhappy with his decision to remain with the Congress. Thakor had reportedly flown to Delhi on Friday to meet senior Congress leaders.
When asked about his Delhi visits, Thakor said that he said he spoken with the party leadership about the need to respect his people. “I do not deny that I was unhappy with the (Congress) party and the way of functioning of some people… However, I don’t need to struggle within the party anymore,” he said.
Thakor, who was appointed Congress secretary and party co-in-charge in Bihar, said that he would not be contesting the Lok Sabha elections and that no members from his family, including his wife, has any political ambition.
“I have requested the party that I do not want to be the national secretary. I want to be in Gujarat and work for the people here. I do not want to do any politics in Delhi,” he said.
Thakor had shot to fame in 2015 when he held de-addiction campaigns around time of the Patidar agitation led by Hardik Patel. Hoping to widen his base, he set up the OBC SC ST Ekta Manch, in addition to the existing Gujarat Kshatriya Thakor Sena, in an attempt to project it as a parallel organisation of the OBC community.
The Gujarat Kshatriya Thakor Sena has been criticised for allegedly leading the attacks against migrants from the north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, which led to a mass exodus, following the rape of an infant in Sabarkantha.