OBC Ekta Manch Leader Alpesh Thakor to Join Congress on Oct 23

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Earlier in the day, Congress extended invitation to caste-based leaders including Patidar leader Hardik Patel to jointly contest the Gujarat elections. Patidar movement leader Hardik Patel's key aides- Reshma and Varun Patel have joined the BJP.

Both leaders are vocal critics of the BJP government in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, where assembly elections are due this winter. Thakore met Gandhi at the latter's residence this evening and was accompanied by Congress general secretary in-charge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot and state unit chief Bharatsinh Solanki.

"It is time to throw out the BJP in Gujarat". Speaking to ANI, he said, "Rahul Gandhi would be coming to our rally on Oct 23 and I will join the Congress party".

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.

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The 39-year-old Thakor, who heads the OBC, ST, SC Ekta Manch and founder of the Gujarat Kshatriya-Thakor Sena, announced his intentions after meeting Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi. "I also invite Chhotu Vasava, who helped us in the Rajya Sabha polls, to support the Congress", he said.

"Though the BJP is trying its best to win the polls, it will not succeed in stopping the Congress' victory march to Gandhinagar".

He said the Congress was open to Hardik Patel contesting elections in the future from its platform. I can not contest elections myself because of constitutional provisions, nor do I want. If Hardik Patel manages to pull majority of the 13 per cent of the Patidar community and if Mr Thakor could bring along the majority of the dominant OBC community (nearly 40 per cent) and Mr Mevani could attract a majority of the seven per cent Dalits, the front would comfortably win.

Jignesh Mewani, on the other hand, said, "I am determined to defeat the BJP not only in Gujarat in December 2017 but also in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019". He further said if Congress makes it stand clear on three issues reservation for Patidars, farm loan waiver and jobs for youth then they will support them.

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