Congress to wait and watch as Ajit Jogi heads for split

New Delhi, June 5 (IANS) Even as senior Congress leader Ajit Jogi is headed for Kotmi in the Marwahi assembly constituency in Chhattisgarh to announce his future political course on Monday, the Congress high command on Sunday dropped hints it will “wait and watch”.

“He is holding a workers’ meeting on Monday. So, we will wait and watch what he does,” Congress General Secretary B.K. Hariprasad, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in Chhattisgarh, told IANS.

However, a section of party leaders both in Delhi and in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state seemed to have reconciled themselves to the imminent exit of one-time Sonia Gandhi loyalist.

Earlier, some party leaders said though the rebellion from Jogi and his legislator son Amit Jogi is essentially linked to a father’s affection for his son (Amit JOgi was expelled from the party), the departure of Congress’ “popular tribal face” could harm the party in some select pockets.

The Ajit Jogi camp says if Jogi announces to float a party on Monday, the Congress could suffer huge loss of ground in districts like Bilaspur, Raigarh and Jagdalpur.

“We have the backing of at least 10 sitting Congress MLAs in Chhattisgarh,” a source in the Jogi camp said.

While the Congress has 39 legislaors in the 90-member assembly, the ruling BJP has 49 and one seat each is held by Bahujan Samaj Party and an Independent.

“Ajit Jogi has lost political significance after three consecutive defeats of the Congress in state assembly polls. That’s why Congress is not much interested in trying to retain him in the party either. Last month, (Congress vice president) Rahul Gandhi declined to meet him despite repeated requests,” said a source close to state unit president Bhupesh Baghel.

Other Congress leaders too were not keen about reaching out to the former Chhattisgarh chief minister to avoid the split in the party.

“Migration is a continuous process in politics and there is always an arrival and departure lounge here,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said here during a media briefing on Thursday after Ajit Jogi indicated that he may float a new party.

The Jogi camp has expressed keenness to fight the BJP under incumbent Chief Minister Raman Singh, who has been in power since 2004.

On June 2, Jogi himself indicated his intent to quit the party and fight the BJP.

“There is a a lot of pressure on me by my supporters, well-wishers and friends that if I have to make Chhattisgarh Raman Singh-mukt (free), then I have to quit Congress. Congress is working like ‘Team-B’ of Raman Singh. If I have to defeat him, then I have to lead from the front,” Jogi said.

But political watchers suggest that essentially Jogi — if at all he walks out of Congress — is guided by his affection for his son Amit Jogi, who has always been embroiled in controversies.

Amit Jogi was expelled from the Congress in January this year after a leaked telephonic conversation allegedly pointed fingers at him for fixing a by-election in favour of the BJP by putting only a “demo fight from the Congress side”.

A Delhi court in April acquitted five people, including Amit Jogi in a graft case related to a 2003 sting operation involving former union Minister and senior BJP leader Dilip Singh Judeo.



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