After Rahul gandhi agreed to OBC leader Alpesh Thakor’s demands about farmers and OBCs, he is set to join Congress on Monday.
Rahul will attend a rally being organised by Thakor’s “OBC Unity Front” in Gandhinagar on Monday, where the OBC leader would merge his newly launched outfit with Congress.
OBC leader Alpesh Thakor is set to join Congress on Monday, in what may be the first sign of a broad anti-BJP front coming together ahead of the assembly elections in Gujarat in December.
After a surprise 45-minute meeting with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday, Thakor told, “I placed my demands about farmers and OBCs and Rahul said these were at the core of the Congress’s ideology. Rahul said we should fight together and I accepted the invitation.”
Rahul Gandhi will attend a rally being organised by Thakor’s “OBC Unity Front” in Gandhinagar on Monday, where the OBC leader would merge his newly launched outfit with Congress, AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot said.
The development followed a call by Congress leader Bharatsinh Solanki to the troika of young anti-BJP caste leaders: Hardik Patel, who led an agitation of the Patel community demanding quota, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and Thakor.
Unlike Thakor, Hardik and Mevani refused to join Congress. However, the Dalit leader offered clear support to Congress. “We see Congress as the main opposition and the people should vote for it to wipe out BJP rather than going for any other alternative,” Mevani said.
Even Hardik, while refusing to openly join forces with Congress, identified BJP as his chief enemy. “Our fight is against an arrogant BJP,” he said. Though he dubbed Congress’s invite a “political stunt”, there was no mistaking his intent to work to ensure BJP’s defeat.
Hardik said, “I do not want to fight any election. Contesting polls was never our intention. Our fight is against the arrogance of persons in power. We want our right of the quota and we will win this battle of justice.” He said he was only 24 years old and underage to contest elections.
BJP’s retaliation did not take long as it managed to wean away 70 members of the Patel Amanat Aandolan Samiti (PAAS). Those who crossed over include close aides of Hardik — Varun Patel, Reshma Patel, Mahesh Patel and Geeta Patel. “We have decided to join BJP in the interest of the Patidar community. We will contest elections or work as party workers, dispense any responsibility given by BJP during elections,” Varun told.
An angry Ashish Patel of PAAS alleged the saffron party was poaching Hardik’s aides with lucrative offers.
The moves and counter-manoeuvres reflected Congress’s bid to erect a larger social coalition to take on the dominant BJP and the latter’s attempt to fend off the attempt. Congress, which has traditionally relied upon the support of Muslims, sections of OBCs, Dalits and tribals, is hoping that Hardik’s revolt would fetch it votes of Patels, BJP’s traditional constituent and the party’s mainstay, as a bonus.
BJP has been working hard to prevent the erosion of support among Patels, while hoping from the consolidation of OBCs who are wary of the aggression of Patels over quota as they recognise that the demands of the dominant prosperous community can be conceded at their cost only.
Importantly, after meeting Rahul Gandhi, Alpesh said he was on the same page as patidar leader Hardi
“It is about the development model which was shown. Why is every community unhappy, be it Dalits or OBCs or farmers or young. If even the prosperous patidars are raising such a strong voice, then it means it is a failed model,” Thakor told.