Around nine months since the party’s two top positions in the state went vacant, the Congress High Command on Thursday decided to appoint former MP and OBC community leader from North Gujarat, Jagdish Thakor, as the president of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) and MLA Sukhram Rathva as the Leader of Opposition (LOP) in the state Assembly, party sources told The Indian Express.
The decision — official announcement of which is likely to be made Friday — comes ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections in Gujarat. Thakor will succeed Amit Chavda, who is an MLA from OBC strongman Jagdish
Thakor is new GPCC chief, MLA Rathva LOP Anklav in central Gujarat, while Rathva, a tribal leader who is an MLA from Chhota Udepur, will occupy the position held by Paresh Dhanani.
The posts of GPCC president and Leader of Opposition in the state had been lying vacant since March after Chavda and Dhanani resigned following the party’s dismal performance in the local body elections in February.
According to party sources, Thakor and Rathva met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and party’s state incharge Raghu Sharma in New Delhi on Thursday for a discussion after which their nomination for the top posts was confirmed.
Thakor, 64, is a native of Kankrej in Banaskantha and lives in Ahmedabad. He won from Patan constituency in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections by securing over 2.8 lakh votes. He had also served as a two-term MLA from Dahegam constituency.
Thakor resigned from all posts in the Gujarat Congress in 2016, stating that he will continue to be a “worker” in the party.
Rathva, 66, had won from the Jetpur constituency in the 2017 Assembly polls by securing over 60,000 votes.
As reported by The Indian Express, Thakor was among the three Gujarat Congress leaders whose names were discussed for the post of GPCC president when Rahul had invited 23 senior party leaders from the state to New Delhi for an open discussion amid reports of factionalism within the party.
“Those attending the meeting with Rahul Gandhi had pushed for experienced leaders in Gujarat in which Thakor’s name came up. Even after defeating a BJP candidate in 2009 polls, he sacrificed his seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls for another Congress candidate,” said a senior Congress leader.