OBC leader Alpesh Thakor to join Congress

Gujarat Assembly poll Congress invites Hardik Patel Jignesh Mevani to join fight against BJP

Amit Dave Reuters

Patel, whose quota stir often turned violent resulting in the death of several people in police action, is aged 24 years.

In a significant boost to Congress in Gujarat ahead of the December assembly polls, Alpesh Thakor has made a decision to join the party.

Following this, Thakor, along with Ashok Gehlot and Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki earlier reached the residence of Congress Party vice president Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress' attempt to set up a mega anti-BJP front in Gujarat began to take shape with the influential Patidar community leader Hardik Patel assuring his support to the proposed front saying - "We are anti-BJP, we will back Congress to defeat BJP".

You have to be at least 25 to contest an election to Parliament or the state assemblies in India.

After joining the BJP, the Patidar leaders told reporters that Hardik has become a "Congress agent" and was trying to use the agitation to overthrow the present state government.

The Congress is out of power in Gujarat for 22 years. Solanki even promised to give an additional 20 per cent reservation to economically backward classes in the state if the Congress is voted to power in the upcoming assembly polls.

Highly placed sources said that Mevani and Thakore have left for Delhi along with Solanki for a meeting with the Congress high command and the possibility of their meeting Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi can not be ruled out. We invite Hardik, PAAS workers and leaders and the Patidar community to join the Congress. "This what we all want to know, first explain us", he added.

"I am very happy that Mr Thakor had a meeting with our Vice President and agreed to join the Congress party". "The NCP had backstabbed us in the Rajya Sabha elections but I now hear that the NCP is ready to join hands with us". The recently concluded Rajya Sabha elections which saw Congress leader Ahmed Patel scrape through with the support of the lone JD-U legislator Chottubhai Vasava has led to an opposition re-think in the strategy to combat the ruling BJP in the state.

"Whether I will contest the polls for Congress or join the party will be jointly decided by Dalit organizations and leaders in the state". This has led to softening of the Congress stand against any truck with NCP in the forthcoming Gujarat polls after the two NCP MLAs voted BJP against Patel. Asked if they were not acting as agents of the BJP, both claimed their fight right from the beginning was for the community and to support whoever backed the Patidars' cause.

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