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Business News/ Home-page / Gujarat elections: Alpesh Thakor is much more than a clueless dynast
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Gujarat elections: Alpesh Thakor is much more than a clueless dynast

Alpesh Thakor is currently leading from the seat against BJP's Lavingji Thakor

Congress president Rahul Gandhi with the OBC leader Alpesh Thakor. Photo: PTIPremium
Congress president Rahul Gandhi with the OBC leader Alpesh Thakor. Photo: PTI

It has been an embarrassment of riches for Gujarat as far as the emergence of new leaders (seemingly) is concerned. The 2017 state elections have been dominated by three young men, Jignesh Mevani, Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor, each riding the wave of the anger of their communities. 

Of the three, Thakor, at 40, is the oldest. He has taken the most conventional route of entry into politics by contesting on a Congress ticket from the Radhanpur seat of Patan district. On Monday, he defeated BJP’s Lavingji Thakor by close to 15,000 votes.

Unlike the other two new leaders, who have risen from the grassroots, Thakor is the son of Congress leader Khodabhai Patel. But Thakor is much more than a clueless dynast. He has been campaigning against liquor addiction in his community and had even formed the Gujarat Kshatriya-Thakor Sena to spread awareness about the malaise. But it was in 2016 that Thakor’s political ambitions started taking a more concrete shape, specifically in the form of “Ekta Manch", an outfit he started to bring together other backward castes (OBCs), scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) under the same umbrella.

Click here for live updates of Gujarat election results

In a June 2017 interview to news portal Newslaundry, Thakor had claimed that both his organizations together have an influence on over 78% of the vote bank in Gujarat. In an interview to news portal The Wire, Thakor said that it was the issue of farmers (he identifies himself as one) that had led him to formally join politics. “Most people in our villages have been suffering huge losses in agriculture. People have landed in debt…unemployment was… making the youth… take up bad habits. There was a sense of despair." Interestingly in January 2017, in an interview to The Indian Express, Thakor had said, “I am neither going to contest elections nor join any political party."

Click here for constituency-wise map for Gujarat election results

Hardik Patel has not formally joined the Congress, but he is supporting the party, while Thakor is contesting on its ticket. However, both men already have a history of sorts. When Patel led an agitation demanding reservation for the Patidars, Thakor was part of rallies that opposed the Patel community’s demand. He has been vocal about the discomfort in OBC, SC and ST communities about the Patidars’ demand for quotas. OBCs make up a chunk of Gujarat’s population that have favoured both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the past, but Thakor hopes to change that now.

Thakor’s Sena, interestingly, seems to take a leaf out of the organizational notebook of the BJP with foot soldiers, committees and cadres, all of whom work at the grassroot level. Thakor has spoken about creating booth-level teams in over 100 seats in the run-up to the election and has spoken highly about cadre-based work. Now, whether this cadre helps him win remains to be seen.

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Published: 18 Dec 2017, 11:02 AM IST
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