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BJP, Jogi locked in tussle over Kota poll

CM Raman Singh and his 13 ministers are camping there to ensure that the BJP comes on top.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2006 12:15 IST

Chhattisgarh's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is locked in a do-or-die battle to win the Kota assembly constituency and to teach a lesson to its long-time foe and Congress veteran Ajit Jogi.

Chief Minister Raman Singh and his entire 13 ministers along with key figures of its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are camping there to ensure that the BJP comes on top.

Jogi is equally determined to see that his wife Renu overcomes the BJP in a contest dubbedinKotaas "a battle of dignity for Jogi as well as the Raman Singh government".

Since 1952, the Congress has never lost the Kota seat but the BJP came close to victory in the December 2003 election.

Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Jogi managed to launch his wife's political career from Kota with the Congress allotting the ticket to her hours before the filing of nominations closed.

The BJP has fielded Bhupendra Singh Thakur, who has been trying his luck for the third time in a row from the constituency.

The election was necessitated after Kota legislator Rajendra Prasad Shukla, who was also Chhattisgarh's first assembly speaker, died after a prolonged illness.

The counting will take place on December 7, when the BJP government completes three years in office.

"The Kota poll is not just an election, it's a litmus test for the BJP government's capability. A victory for Jogi's wife will create an impression across the state that the BJP can never compete with Jogi," said Amar Agrawal, a BJP minister and in-charge of the Kota battle.

"We have to win Kota by any means. The loss will not only dent the confidence of our workers but also allow Jogi to emerge stronger. It will create hurdles for the smooth running of the BJP government," a RSS leadersaid.

The BJP has brought over 6,000 party cadres from various parts of the state to Kota to work with the ministers and RSS leaders to help bag the seat.

The BJP ministry has literally deserted capital Raipur and is parked at four key locations - Kota, Ratanpur, Gorela, Pendra - in the Kota segment to block Jogi's chances.

"The whole BJP government has shifted to Kota. They are creating pressure on voters and terrorising Congress workers," Jogisaid during his campaign in Belgehna village.

"Let them do what they can. I will get through with a comfortable victory and the government's capability and strength will be exposed," Jogi stated.

First Published: Dec 02, 2006 12:15 IST