The election to Chhattisgarh assembly is over two years away, but former chief minister Ajit Jogi’s announcement to float a new party has led to speculation about its possible impact on the state’s bipolar politics dominated by BJP and Congress.
It is impossible at this stage to predict the gains Jogi’s new outfit may or may not make in the assembly election, but his sudden decision has created a buzz right from Delhi to Raipur, a political observer said.
The fact that he has a strong following in the state despite being out of power since a long time has prompted the ruling BJP as well as the Congress to devise strategies to counter him, he claimed.
Jogi said he was forced to make the new outfit as the state Congress was incapable of taking on the Raman Singh government.
“It appears that the main opposition Congress is working like a supporter of the ruling BJP instead of fighting against its misrule. The state needs a strong opposition. My supporters and well wishers want me to take a decision to free this state from the corrupt governance,” Jogi said.
The ruling BJP is likely to face anti-incumbency factor, apart from stiff opposition from Congress and a third party led by Jogi in the 2018 assembly polls.
Jogi has considerable influence over the Satnami SC community and tribals who comprise nearly 50% population of the state, and he may damage the prospects of both BJP and Congress.
If he succeeds in garnering support of SC voters, it could harm the BJP, which is currently holding 9 out of 10 SC reserved seats in the assembly.
However, leaders of the two key parties do not see Jogi as a threat and, in fact, claim that they will be benefited with his move.
“Jogi’s disassociation with the Congress would inflict damage to the main opposition’s vote bank in the state which in-turn will benefit BJP. It’s not right to say BJP is worried with the recent political events in the state,” BJP state chief Dharamlal Kaushik said.
Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee chief Bhupesh Baghel also feels Jogi’s new outfit will certainly help his party to wrest power in Chhattisgarh.
“The formation of Jogi’s new party will not have any effect on Congress. In fact, the BJP cashed on the (negative) image of Jogi in the previous polls.
With Jogi on his way out, the Congress will get rejuvenated,” Baghel said.
Jogi’s announcement has marked the culmination of the long-drawn factionalism within the Chhattisgarh party unit.
Jogi, a bureaucrat-turned-politician, was made the first chief minister of the newly formed Chhattisgarh after its division from Madhya Pradesh. However, when Congress suffered defeat in 2003 by BJP, Jogi was blamed for it.
Subsequently, BJP won the assembly polls consecutively for three times in the state and pushed Jogi to the edge.
In January this year, the state Congress unit had expelled Ajit Jogi’s son Amit from the party for a period of six years after some audio tapes purportedly revealed that the by-poll held for Antagarh assembly seat in 2014 was fixed.
The seat went to BJP as the Congress candidate had pulled out of the race apparently over financial inducements. The state Congress had also sought sacking of Ajit Jogi from the party.