After nearly one-and-a-half years of suspense, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor on Thursday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party at its Gujarat headquarters, Kamalam, in Gandhinagar. His key aide, Dhavalsinh Jhala, also embraced the saffron party.
Gujarat BJP president Jitubhai Vaghani welcomed Thakor and Jhala to the party.
Thakor's induction is a shot in the arm for the BJP, which is eyeing the OBC votes in the upcoming assembly elections in 2022. The grapevine is that he might get a ministerial berth in the next cabinet reshuffle.
Both of them had resigned as MLAs after cross voting in favour of the BJP in byelection to Rajya Sabha from Gujarat on July 5.
Thakor had won the assembly election from Radhanpur and Jhala from Bayad on Congress tickets. Thakor, along with his supporters, had joined the Congress ahead of the assembly elections in 2017.
Regardless of the fact that he was made co-in-charge of the party for Bihar and was accommodated in various committees formed before the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, Thakor had always kept the Congress on the tenterhooks. He had quit the party before LS polls, alleging neglect of the members of his community by the Congress. Thakor had held that they did not get respect in the Congress.
Thakor belongs to the OBC community that has sizable vote share.
He, along with Patidar leader Hardik Patel and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, had shot into limelight following caste agitations. They were seen as a trio. While Patel joined the Congress ahead of LS elections, Mevani, who won as an independent from Vadgam assembly seat, has preferred to stay away from political parties.
Thakor's move to join the BJP has evoked sharp reactions from Patel. The firebrand Patidar leader said that people had pinned hopes on Thakor. With Thakor joining the BJP, he should now focus on the issues that he fought for like unemployment, 'actual' liquor ban and improving education for the needy.
Hundreds of members of the Khastriya Thakor Sena and OBC, SC/ST Ekta Manch that Thakor heads were present at Kamalam. The supporters carried him and Jhala on their shoulders while raising slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. The supporters were carrying banners of their social outfits as well.