Gujarat Congress leader Alpesh Thakor, who is facing the heat over his alleged incitement of attacks on North Indians living in the western state, launched himself into a damage control mode, which involved making a public call for an end to targeting of migrants, following a stiff reprimand from party president Rahul Gandhi.
Party sources said Gandhi had called Thakor the very next day after the attacks on migrants in Gujarat broke out following the rape of a 14-month-old girl on September 28 in Sabarkantha district allegedly by a migrant worker. He is learnt to have reprimanded the young leader over the developments and asked him to take immediate measures to contain the violence.
The sources said Thakor explained to the Congress President that his reported speech before the community, which was perceived as having incited violence against migrant workers in Gujarat, was a spontaneous expression of anger over the sexual assault perpetrated on the toddler.
The victim belonged to the OBC Thakor community. And Thakor, a prominent leader of that community, is learnt to have told Gandhi that he had made an appeal that same evening that his fellow community members should not target North Indians.
Thakor, who faced severe criticism over his alleged role in the attacks on North Indians breaking out, undertook a day-long 'Sadbhavna Upvas' in Ahmedabad. Breaking the fast on Thursday, he said, “At this point, I remember Rahul Gandhi's words. He told me, Alpesh, we should do the politics which unites the country.”
The ruling BJP blamed Thakor, who is an MLA in the Gujarat Assembly, for the violence against migrants, which has led to an exodus of thousands of them back to their home states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The saffron party has demanded that Gandhi should act against Thakor.
However, Thakor, who is the AICC Secretary in-charge of Bihar, is being strongly defended by the Congress. AICC General Secretary in charge of Bihar Shakti Singh Gohil, who is also from Gujarat, said, “The truth is that while BJP MLAs have incited violence, Alpesh Thakor has campaigned to stop eviction of migrants. If he is guilty, why doesn't the BJP government in Gujarat file an FIR against him and put him behind bars?”
Thakor had, prior to the Assembly elections in Gujarat, emerged as a prominent leader of the Thakor community. He joined the Congress just before the polls and contested on the party's ticket.