Congress suspends Jogi loyalists in Chhattisgarh
The Chhattisgarh unit of the Congress has suspended large numbers of party workers loyal to former chief minister Ajit Jogi for six years for anti-party activities and indiscipline.
Party spokesperson Ramesh Varlyani said the action had become necessary as a group of party workers, mostly from Korba district, had revolted against party candidate Charandas Mahant's nomination for the Janjgir parliamentary seat.
They were demanding that that party working president Mahant be replaced with another candidate.
Among those suspended are Korba district president Kedarnath, vice president Murit Ram Sahu and spokesman Suresh Sharma.
"The demand for replacing Mahant was at the behest of some senior leaders who refused to work for the betterment of the party," said Varlyani, adding that "indiscipline would not be tolerated at any cost".
But this could be the beginning of more problems for the Congress, readying itself to fight for the 11 Lok Sabha, lower house of parliament, seats from the state in the general election on April 20.
To ward against more trouble, the state Congress has asked its district unit chiefs to send a comprehensive report about Jogi loyalists, particularly those working against the party interests.
The party has been facing dissent in large parts of the state, particularly in places like Bilaspur, Dantewada, Mahasamund and Korba where Jogi still holds sway.
The action against Jogi loyalists was the first since December when the former chief minister was ousted from power in the assembly election and disgraced in a corruption scam.
Following Jogi's suspension from the party, All India Congress Committee (AICC) treasurer Motilal Vora was given charge of the state in January while Mahant, MP from Janjgir in the dissolved house, was appointed working president.
Jogi supporters have launched a campaign to insist that his participation is essential if the party wants to put up an impressive show at the elections.
Recently, the Congress central leadership asked Jogi to campaign for the party in the northeast states - a move that is being seen as a sign that party President Sonia Gandhi is softening her stance towards him.