- "Congress won, brother," was Rahul Gandhi's reply to Alpesh Thakor
- Thakor defeated his BJP rival Lavingji Thakor by nearly 18,000 votes
- He was recruited by Congress with an eye on the sizeable OBC votes
Alpesh Thakor, recruited by the Congress in Gujarat with an eye on the sizeable OBC or Other Backward Caste votes, had some tense moments when he was trailing on Monday morning, less than an hour into the counting of votes. Soon, the leads changed and Thakor, 40, was home.
"I always knew I was meant to be in politics," he said, sharing that one time, he had an audience of nine at a public meeting.
"In 2015, 50,000 people come to my rallies," Thakor told NDTV.
Gujarat picked the BJP again yesterday for a sixth straight term, but confined the party to below 100 in the 182-seat assembly. The Congress lost but ended up with its best tally since 1985.
Thakor, Patidar campaigner Hardik Patel and activist Jignesh Mevani formed a trio that Rahul Gandhi believed would connect the party to a chunk of the population including the Patels or Patidars, Dalits and OBCs.
He assesses that the Congress won wherever Rahul Gandhi campaigned. Asked about reports that he was sought by the BJP, he said: "Yes, they really tried to pull me away."
Thakor's wife Kiran, his college sweetheart, also campaigned for him. "Our married life is very good," she said, beaming in a candy pink sari. She dismissed the thought that she would see less of her politician husband after his election. "Now in fact we will see each other even more, since I will also work with him," she said.
Thakor added: "We want to work for the country. Money? It was never the goal of my joining politics. Look at Rahul ji, he is there to serve the nation, not make money."
Thakor defeated by nearly 18,000 votes his BJP rival Lavingji Thakor who quit the Congress after being denied a ticket to contest the election.
Thakor's father was also a Congress leader who reportedly switched from the BJP to the Congress more than two decades ago.