An attempt to display unity in the faction-ridden Chhattisgarh unit of the Congress ended in embarrassment for the party after two senior leaders engaged in a heated verbal duel at a public meeting at Bilaspur, 120km from the state capital on Monday.
AICC general secretary in charge of the state BK Hariprasad expressed displeasure when his public address was interrupted by slogan-shouting supporters of former chief minister Ajit Jogi when the latter arrived at the venue.
As the sloganeering continued, Hariprasad told Jogi supporters they should raise slogans for the party's national leaders instead. "Everyone knows Jogi here. Such sycophancy is not unacceptable," Hariprasad declared.
This apparently annoyed Jogi, who retorted, "One should not suppress the feelings of supporters. My name shouldn't been taken and I should not be blamed for this."
Hearing this, Hariprasad ended his speech abruptly and left the dais. The public spat left the opposition Congress red-faced. Hariprasad refused to comment, saying, "Better ask him (Jogi)." Jogi on the other hand tried to play down the incident. Sources said Hariprasad informed the party high command about the matter.
State Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel told HT that Hariprasad only tried to control the slogan-shouting activists who were crossing the limits. "There is no dispute between the two leaders and the entire incident was spontaneous," he said.