He was Chhattisgarh’s first chief minister (2000-2003) and even today, senior Congress leader Ajit Jogi remains a formidable figure in the state’s politics. In a chat with Ejaz Kaiser he talks about his rebellious image within the Congress and how the BJP has put the clock back on the state’s development by 20 years.
The Congress lost many leaders in the Maoist attack in May. Is the party facing a leadership crisis?
The incident was a setback, we lost good leaders. But the Congress has always emerged stronger from crises, like when Indiraji and Rajivji were assassinated. It applies to Darbha as well.
Will the tragedy help the state Congress then?
Sympathy sentiments may be there but our focus is to come out much stronger at the organisational level.
Will the Maoist factor deter party workers from campaigning?
Party workers are campaigning with great zeal, they are unafraid. Under the Congress rule, the Maoist menace, now affecting nearly two-thirds of the state, will be curbed and peace restored.
Raman Singh compares his 10 years’ rule with Congress’ 50 years.
Actually, he has taken the state back by 20 years. Central government funds were misused or siphoned off. The indicators reflecting the social, educational and health sectors remain pathetic. In remote areas there are no roads and no access to drinking water. Nothing significant has been achieved on the irrigation front either.
Which is a bigger challenge, the BJP or the factionalism within the Congress?
Infighting remains only till the tickets are finalised. After that, Congress workers will battle it out together under the leadership of Soniaji. In the Congress everyone gets an opportunity to be heard.
Is it true that the state leadership is annoyed with you for your rebellious ways?
There’s nothing like that. This is a theory floated by a certain section with vested interests. The Congress remains united and strong.
It’s the tribal votes that ousted the Congress from power. What have you done to regain their trust?
The Congress neither lost the trust of tribals nor did they vote against us. Because of the Maoist problem, no free and fair polling took place, and we lost most of the seats as the elections were massively rigged.