AMID rumours on Thursday that the BJP has offered a ministerial post to Congress MLA from Radhanpur, Alpesh Thakor, to induce him to join the ruling party, the day ended indecisively, despite the MLA huddling with leaders of his community to reach a decision. “I will tell (you) tomorrow,” Thakor told the media in the evening.
Earlier in the day, he had said he was not joining the BJP. Thakor, who is also the president of OBC SC ST Ekta Manch and Gujarat Kshatriya Thakor Sena, however, called an urgent meeting of senior office bearers of Kshatriya Thakor Sena Thursday afternoon, setting off the rumours again.
More than 50 senior members of the community attended the meeting at Thakor’s Ranip office, and it went on for almost an hour, a source said, adding that they did not arrive at a decision on whether the MLA should join the BJP or not.
“After his going public that he is being sidelined in the Congress and his community is being ignored, the community leaders during the meeting only sought affirmation from him on how the community would benefit from him joining the BJP,” a person who had information about the meeting’s discussion, said. “It was more than just assurances that the community leaders wanted from Thakor,” said the person, who did not want to be identified. “In the absence of which (assurances), the day ended amid confusion,” the source added.
Later in the day, there was also talk of Thakor heading to Delhi to meet the Congress high command but the MLA’s loyalists denied it.
Thakor himself said, “All these are not true” and promised to make his stand clear on Friday.
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 district. A labourer from Bihar has since been convicted for the crime.
Meanwhile, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel on Thursday said he didn’t think Alpesh Thakor or other Congress MLAs would defect to the BJP. “We trust all our MLAs. Ideologically they are committed to the Congress party and I don’t believe that they can switch parties,” he said. “Even if someone does, then it is their fault and (their) loss. They will regret their decisions. I don’t think anyone, even Alpesh (Thakor), is changing parties,” he added.
Ahmed Patel also criticised the Centre’s response to the recent terror attack that killed more than 40 CRPF personnel. “This is the weakest government. Rhetoric alone won’t help the fight against terrorism,” he said. “ No one can fight terrorism like the Congress party did.”