VENKATESH KESARI | 28 DECEMBER, 2017
Alpesh Thakor for Top Congress Post in Gujarat?
NEW DELHI: The Congress, looking for a new beginning in Gujarat, is seriously considering the possibility of bringing backward leader Alpesh Thakor as either the state unit president, or the leader of the Congress legislature party in the Gujarat Assembly.
Thakor was the only one of the three dynamic leaders---Jignesh Mevani and Hardik Patel being the others---to join the Congress party and contest the Assembly elections on its symbol enjoys a good rapport with party President Rahul Gandhi. He is seen as the more sober, and quieter of the trio and can be expected to bring new enthusiasm into the party, according to sources.
While no decision has been taken as yet, many Congress stalwarts who could fitted either of the two posts have lost the elections. In fact PCC chief Bharat Sinh Solanki did not contest the elections with sources within the party claiming he was worried about “CDs”. This may or may not be true but Solanki maintained a very low profile during the polls and is not seen by the younger elements as capable of giving a much needed shot in the arm to the Congress organisation in Gujarat.
Other Congress leaders like Siddhartha Patel, Shaktisinh Gohil, Arjun Modhwadia, Tushar Chaudhary who could have fitted the bill, all lost the elections.
Sources said that while Thakor might not make it for PCC chief, he could certainly be considered with some seriousness for CLP leadership. Or at least one with clear cut responsibilities, whereby the Congress legislature party could play the role of an effective opposition in the House. Thakor aided by Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani who is not a member of the Congress but has full support from Rahul Gandhi, could be expected to give the BJP a run for its money in the run up to the 2019 general elections.
The Congress assessments, made after the results, has placed them in what the sources said is a ‘winning position as of today’ in 11 of the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat. The BJP has made Vijay Rupani the Chief Minister again, but the sources maintained that he will not be in place for the entire term. And that the BJP will effect a leadership change sooner than later.
The state unit is also pressing for the plenary session of the AICC to be held in Gujarat to consolidate the win. Ahmedabad or Surat are the two venues being suggested, with Bengaluru now being ruled out because of the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state. " We hardly have any time left to prepare for the AICC plenary. Now, our priority is to win the assembly election, " a senior MP and former union minister said.
The old guard is not particularly keen to hand over a position of responsibility to newcomer Thakor. However, the younger and less conservative elements in the Congress feel that the move, while bold, could bring new fervour into the party in Gujarat. More so, as the organisation has been working with the ruling BJP at different levels since 2002. Shanker Sinh Vaghela who left the Congress party had been a major obstacle in the revival of the Congress. He was not removed because by the party top brass because of an exaggerated feedback about his support base in the state. This was, however, exposed in these elections with Vaghela fielding 100 candidates who together secured a total of just above 80,000 votes.