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Cong, BJP battle it out in the shadow of naxal violence

The stage is set for a fierce battle among the three Js---Jogi, Judeo and jungle raj of Naxalites, who are determind to impose a poll boycott-- in the first ever elections to the new state assembly.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2003 17:28 IST
Pradip Kumar Maitra
Pradip Kumar Maitra

The stage is set for a fierce battle among the three Js---Jogi, Judeo and jungle raj of Naxalites, who are determind to impose a poll boycott-- in the first ever elections to the new state assembly to be held on December 1.

The Naxalites of Peoples’ War (PW), who are aiming to make Bastar a liberated zone, has issued a poll boycott in the region. The past poll record, shows large-scale violent incidents in Bastar region during the elections.

The PW attacked a police party near Kanker on Sunday morning and a fierce battle was on between them till the filing of the report. According to reports, over 250 police personnel are involved in the battle against the PW and details are still awaited.

Besides, the attack on the convoy of the sitting Congress legislator from Bijapur, Rajrendra Pambhoi by the PW on Saturday evening in which 7 policemen were killed, has given enough indication of how desperate they are to implement the `poll boycott’ through the barrel of the gun.

But in the political arena where wits and wile are the weapons, the fate of at least two dozen ministers will be decided tomorrow. This political battle has taken on a bizarre turn withboth the Congress and the BJP, throwing aside developmental issues and launching a personal blitzkrieg on each others leaders. The BJP spared no efforts to bash Jogi on all fronts and did not hesitate to even lampoon his family, especially his son Amit.

The NCP also did not lag behind in Jogi bashing, though they did not join hands with the saffron party in doing so. Ultimately, it was Ajit Jogi who had the last laugh, when the BJP’s star campaigner and projected Chief Minister, Dilip Singh Judeo was caught on a video tape receiving largesse. The Raja of Jashpur had earlier vowed that he would cut off his moustache, if he failed in defeating the wily Jogi. But with Judeo, caught with his hands in the till, is not in a position to even twirl his moustache after he as Jogi put it: “Isne apni nak to katva lee but apni party ki bhi nak kava li”.

The BJP, which was virtually caught with its pants down, launched a vicious campaign, in which Jogi’s son was targeted. But, the damage was already done.

With D-day on Monday, the day of polling, an interesting battle in on the cards in Marwahi in Bilaspur district where a chief minister and leader of the Opposition would cross swords for the first time in the history of parliamentary democracy.

Jogi is locked in a triangular contest with the BJP nominee and leader of the Opposition, Nand Kumar Sai and the former State Women Commission chairperson and NCP candidate, Hemwant Porte there. Though his winning is just a formality, Jogi did not want to take any chances and camped in Marwahi for last two days before the forthcoming hustings.

More than 1.35-crore voters are expected to cast their franchise, to decide the fate of 819 candidates in the fray. Though there would be a triangular fight among the Congress, BJP and the NCP in over 30 assembly seats, it would virtually be a straight fight in the remaining constituencies.

Prominent personalities, barring the chief minister and the leader of the Opposition, whose fate are to be decided on Monday’s poll, include : the Assembly speaker, Rajendra Prasad Shukla (Kota), deputy speaker, Dharamjit Singh (Lormi), the state BSP chief, Daulal Ratnakar (Pamgarh), the Home minister, Nand Kumar Patel (Kharsia), Education minister, Satyanarayan Sharma (Mandir Hasoud), PWD minister, Tarun Chatterjee (Raipur –Rural) and Industry minister, Mahendra Kerma (Dantewada).

The NCP, led by the Congress rebel, Vidya Charan Shukla, which has a tacit understanding with the BJP in several places, hopes to play a crucial role after the elections.

A grim battle is also on cards in Khairagarh constituency where the sitting MLA and state Youth Congress chief, Devbrat Singh, a heir of the Khairagarh royal family, is locked in a battle royale with Siddharth Singh of BJP and the NCP nominee, Lal Shriraj Singh, who too are from royal families.

First Published: Nov 30, 2003 17:28 IST