Watch: What Does Alpesh Thakor Joining Congress Mean For Gujarat?

What does Alpesh Thakor joining the Congress mean? Prof Gaurang Jani, sociologist at Gujarat University, tells us.

2 min read
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What are the implications of OBC leader Alpesh Thakor joining the Congress? How important is the role of caste equations in the upcoming Gujarat elections? Why must the Congress be wary of extending support to both the Patidars and the Thakors? Where does the BJP stand after two decades of governance?

The Quint caught up with Professor Gaurang Jani, a sociologist at the Gujarat University, on 25 October, to understand the above questions better.

Alpesh Thakor officially joined the Congress on 23 October, exactly two days before the election dates were announced in Gujarat. According to Jani, Thakor who had “sided with Congress in the past”, had become a very important caste leader over the last one year.

He explained that over the past year, around the same time that the Patidar reservation agitation began, Thakor also started organising the OBCs, as the community is of the opinion that “reservation is their right”.

Responding to how Thakor joining the Congress will help the party, Jani said that the party has managed to establish a “fertile ground” to attract Thakor votes.


How Congress Lost The Thakor Vote

Professor Jani blames the two major anti-reservation movements in Gujarat’s past for this. One was in 1981 against the SC/STs, and another in 1985, against the OBCs.

In both agitations, these communities lost a number of rights and Constitutional provisions that protected their interests. After 1985, the BJP started attracting the SC/ST and OBC community, with the Hindu card, said the Professor.


Why The BJP Has Lost Footing In Gujarat

Professor Jani names two incidents in the recent past, the Una flogging, the Patidar agitation, and the BJP’s handling of the same, which he says has alienated a large number of people from both sections.

Forty percent of Gujarat’s voters are from the OBC community. This is a large number of people who could be alienated by the BJP’s handling of the issue, says Professor Jani.

He adds that the pro-Hindutva wave has passed in Gujarat, and the task before the BJP is repairing the damage dealt to the SC/ST and OBC community.


How Can Congress Backed by Alpesh Thakor Win Gujarat?

Appeasement of the Thakor, the OBC, and the Patel communities should be prerogative number one, says Professor Jani.

Congress must keep this as their primary focus, since 53 of the 182 MLAs in the previous polls were from the Patel community, Professor Jani adds.

He repeats that balancing the demands of the Patidar and Thakor communities, and ensuring employment opportunities for the newer generation will be a major factor in deciding whether Gujarat Election goes to the Congress, or the BJP.

For more Gujarat election news follow The Quint.

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