No alliance, our party will contest all 90 seats in Chhattisgarh: Ajit Jogi
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No alliance, our party will contest all 90 seats in Chhattisgarh: Ajit Jogi

Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi says he will take on CM Raman Singh in his constituency in order to ‘demolish his persona’

india Updated: Mar 26, 2018 12:19 IST
Ritesh Mishra
Ritesh Mishra
Hindustan Times, Raipur
 Chhattisgarh,Ajit Jogi,Janta Congress
Ajit Jogi address a Press Conference on expose on how Govt in action is protecting culprits in high profile cases – Panama Leaks & FIPB approvals investigation, at Le Meridien in New Delhi.(Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)

Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi, who floated the Janta Congress Chhattisgarh after quitting the Congress, is confident people will choose his party in the assembly elections this year. In an interview with Ritesh Mishra, he also shares why he has decided to contest against chief minister Raman Singh. Excerpts.

How many seats is your party going to contest in the coming assembly election?

We will contest on all the 90 seats and form a government by winning 45-plus seats. I am confident of this because of two reasons. First, the Raman Singh-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has extraordinary anti-incumbency against it fuelled by non-fulfilment of electoral promises. Second, the Congress has not emerged as an option... I make promises I can fulfil. This is the reason I have filed an affidavit stating the steps I will take if I come to power. If I do not fulfil those promises, I can be sued.

Why have you chosen to contest the election from Rajnandgaon against the CM?

As of now, I have decided only to contest election from Rajnandgaon seat. Whenever I visited Rajnandgaon, I sensed people’s disappointment with (CM) Dr Raman Singh. He neglected most of the villages. He started visiting Rajnandgaon only after I announced my decision to contest. He is overdoing it now because he is scared and under pressure .

What prompted you to choose Rajnandgaon?

It gives me an opportunity to demolish the persona of Raman Singh.

Are you thinking of forging an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party or other outfits?

No. Our party will contest all the seats on its own.

What do you have to say on talk that you gave priority to caste identity during your stint as CM? What is your view regarding caste politics?

My conviction is, whether one likes it or not, caste is always an unavoidable and important factor in elections. The degree of prominence might vary, but it is present. Not only me, but all the leaders attend these (caste) sammelans (congregations).

Is Dalit politics alive in Chhattisgarh?

Dalits constitute not more than 20-25% of the population. So, a non-Dalit supported by Dalits has a chance of winning. There are 17 seats where Dalits have a substantial presence. They can influence the elections, but cannot decide the elections unlike the tribal constituencies, where tribals constitute 80-90% of the population.

What do you have to say about the controversy over your caste?

I have won cases on this continuously. My relatives and villagers can confirm my caste, and not someone sitting in Raipur or Delhi. It is a strategy to alienate me from tribals. I belong to the Kawar tribe.

Why do you think the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) works against you?

The RSS works for the BJP, it does not work against anyone. They created an anti-upper caste image of me and I failed to dispel it... I do not stand only for the downtrodden, I stand for everyone.

People say BJP won three elections on the trot on an anti-Jogi plank and blame you for criminalisation of politics in Chhattisgarh.

It is false propaganda. In fact, during my tenure, crime was very low. I was a strict administrator and therefore vested interests did not like it.

The Congress is alleging that the BJP will use liquor to win this election.

In Chhattisgarh, liquor and money play vital roles in elections. These two factors favour the BJP. I am planning to give milk in some areas to counter liquor distribution. Liquor has destroyed Chhattisgarh. I am in favour of partial prohibition. If my government comes in power, I will impose prohibition in the plains, while those belonging to hilly and tribal areas can prepare their own liquor and consume it.

First Published: Mar 26, 2018 12:19 IST