After his unceremonious exit from chief ministership in the last election, Ajit Jogi has been drawing huge crowds in the run-up to the polls in Chhattisgarh this time. The bureaucrat-turned-politician spoke to
in Raipur recently about his party’s prospects and those of the BJP. Excerpts:
There is a lot of infighting in the state unit of the Congress and the BJP continues to portray you as a dictator in your party…
There is more infighting in the BJP and this will be seen when the election results are declared. In the Congress, difference of opinion is a sign of democracy within the party. There is no factionalism.
Raman Singh has been the dictator in the BJP, cleverly sidelining the emerging leadership within the party in Chhattisgarh.
What will be the key issues for the Congress in this election?
There is no dearth of issues but we will target the Raman Singh government for widespread corruption and poor governance. Further, voters can compare the three-year Congress regime with the BJP’s five-year rule and decide.
The BJP is banking on the developmental work its government has accomplished?
The Raman Singh government failed to fulfill promises in the party’s manifesto. It has not initiated any big project on its own and whatever credit the BJP claims are actually based on initiatives taken during the Congress rule when I was chief minister.
How do you see the Salwa Judum campaign affecting the polls?
The Salwa Judum movement is a local issue (restricted to south Bastar) and not likely to affect the poll outcome. Besides, after a Congress government is formed again, the Salwa Judum campaign will be dropped. The Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act will also be reconsidered and repealed.
It was the tribal votes that ousted you from power…
The voting percentage in the tribal belt, which had never reached 30 per cent, was 60-70 per cent in the 2003 election. This raised lot of suspicions about rigging. Now the tribals know that the BJP gave them only bogus promises and marginalised senior tribal leaders.
It is said that you managed to get the maximum share of party tickets for your candidates…
All senior Congress leaders from the state were unanimous over the choice of candidates. The winning potential of candidates was our criterion of selection.
Won’t the resentment in your party over the choice of candidates harm its prospects?
Not at all. Since everyone came to know that the Congress is returning to power, the party got more than the expected number of names from each constituency. But whatever dissatisfaction some party leaders or workers have will soon fade away. But rebellion will not be tolerated.