Ajit Jogi's new party could make a dent in Congress votebank in Chhattisgarh

Will Ajit Jogi, former Congress leader and first chief minister of Chhattisgarh, rise like a phoenix with his new party on 6 June?

Debobrat Ghose June 05, 2016 14:46:06 IST
Ajit Jogi's new party could make a dent in Congress votebank in Chhattisgarh

Will Ajit Jogi, former Congress leader and first chief minister of Chhattisgarh, rise like a phoenix with his new party on 6 June? Will he be able to create a dent in the Congress votebank in Chhattisgarh after a hibernation of 13 years?

Jogi’s recent announcement to float a new political party outside the Congress fold to make Chhattisgarh free of Raman Singh regime has created a strong buzz in the state’s politics, especially within the state unit of the Congress party.

Jogi, who has been touted as a ‘spoiler’ by many of his party colleagues, has simultaneously emerged as a threat for the grand old party of India in the state.

Ajit Jogis new party could make a dent in Congress votebank in Chhattisgarh

File photo of Ajit Jogi. AFP

According to political analysts, Jogi, the bureaucrat-turned-politician, who has a considerable hold over the backward classes (BCs) and other backward classes (OBCs), is likely to make inroads in the Congress votebank, if his yet-to-be formed party contests the next Assembly election in Chhattisgarh.

Senior journalist and political analyst Anal Prakash Shukla said, “Ajit Jogi’s floating a new party will positively affect the Congress votebank. It will cause damage, as Jogi has a strong arithmetical understanding of the 90 constituencies in the state and a strong hold among a large section of sub-castes and OBCs. He’s known as a master manipulator. Moreover, with his son Amit by his side, he has built a strong team of young voters. A section of sitting Congress MLAs is in a dilemma, whether to side with Jogi or not, but some of the ex-MLAs will definitely join Jogi’s new outfit.”

In Chhattisgarh, Jogi exercises considerable influence among the sub-castes in the districts of Bilaspur, Raigarh, Jagdalpur and some parts of Raipur, which are outside the purview of the BJP. Despite the controversy of his ‘fake caste certificate’ under which Jogi declared himself as a tribal and not from OBC, he continues to be an undisputed leader. The BCs and OBCs constitute a large votebank in the state.

Chhattisgarh-based political economist Vivek Joglekar remarked, “He’s the only leader for the voters belonging to sub-castes from Bilaspur-Raigarh belt. He has a strong fan following in Marwahi in Bilaspur district, where there’s a sizable number of voters, who till now have been with the Congress and may now support Jogi, if he forms a new party.”

However, the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) has refuted this viewpoint. They have reasons to do so. A large number of Congress workers have celebrated the news of Jogi forming a new party. They see Jogi’s exit as a good omen for the party.

Chhattisgarh PCC president Bhupesh Baghel said, “Jogi forming a new party won’t have any adverse impact on the Congress. In fact, party workers are seemingly happy with this news and they have celebrated it by burning firecrackers, because they were demoralized due to Jogi’s presence. Jogi is hand-in-glove with Chief Minister Raman Singh, who has completely got exposed after his underhand dealings during the Antagarh Assembly bypoll surfaced. He also got support from the chief minister in his fake caste certificate issue.”

Baghel is optimistic about Rahul Gandhi’s possible elevation as Congress president.

“We’re waiting for Rahulji’s elevation as president. Chhattisgarh Congress is well equipped to take Jogi head on, if he forms a party and contests the Assembly elections. We’ll put all our united efforts to win the next election. Possibly sensing Rahul Gandhi’s taking over as party chief, Jogi has decided to quit as his kind of activities won’t be tolerated,” Baghel said.

Added Shukla, “The dedicated Congress workers across party rank and file are feeling relieved by Jogi’s possible exit. Because, according to them, it was the Jogi factor that was responsible for the Congress’ loss in the last three assembly elections. This development may compel Congress party in Chhattisgarh to be more organized and cohesive.”

Meanwhile, Jogi is unfazed by any allegations against him or his son – whether it’s related to his caste issue or the Antagarh tape incident or the old case of murder of an NCP leader.

Jogi said, “First of all, the allegations are baseless. Right from the high court to the Supreme Court — all have cleared me and my son of accusations and charges. I’ve a strong support of 10 lakh people of Chhattisgarh, who want me to lead against Dr Raman Singh and the BJP government. The Congress party in the state is not equipped to take them head on, as the party leaders including the PCC chief in Chhattisgarh have made compromises with the BJP. I’m waiting for 6 June.”

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