Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi is on Monday expected to announce a new outfit, making official his break-up with the Congress, which has warned its leaders against attending the meeting called by the maverick leader.
The Congress leadership has adopted a wait-and-watch approach as Jogi called a mahasabha, or a public meeting, in his native Marwahi in Bilaspur district, about 150 km from here, four days after making public his decision to float a new party.
“There is no question of revising my decision now. The Marwahi meeting is going to be a turning point in the politics of Chhattisgarh state,” the 70-year-old bureaucrat-turned-politician told HT. “We will deliberate over the name of new party, its symbol, its launch and related details.”
The Congress, which is in the opposition, has warned of disciplinary action against those attending the gathering called by Jogi, whose relationship with the party has deteriorated over the years.
The BJP, in power in the mineral-rich state for more than 12 years, says Jogi’s decision will have no impact on its political fortunes. “Congress is heading for a split and will not have any impact on our party,” chief minister Raman Singh said.
Observers say it is too early to predict who will be hurt by Jogi’s plans. “If he forms a regional outfit, it would be difficult to assess the extent of political challenges and damages that the BJP or the Congress in Chhattisgarh are likely to face,” political analyst Sunil Kumar said. “But Jogi factor remains relevant and his stakes are more in constituencies having substantial vote base of Dalits, tribals and villagers.”
Jogi says his aim is to create a “Raman Singh-mukt (free)” Chhattisgarh, which the Congress can’t do. “The regional parties are now playing a major role in Indian politics and the influence of my political mission too will be felt in Chhattisgarh when the Congress will not be able to reach even a double-digit figure during the next election,” said Jogi, the first chief minister of Chhattisgarh which was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000.
Many within the party see Jogi’s move as an attempt to insure the political future of his legislator son Amit, who was expelled from the Congress in January for allegedly trying to swing a by-election in favour of the BJP. Similar action was recommended against Jogi, too, but the party’s disciplinary committee hasn’t taken any decision so far.