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Jogging away

Why is Chhattisgarh CM Ajit Jogi the favourite of Sonia Gandhi? One guess is that it?s because he is the only man handpicked by the Congress president for a chief minister?s post.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2003 18:43 IST

Why is Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi the favourite of Sonia Gandhi? One guess is that it’s because he is the only man handpicked by the Congress president for a chief minister’s post.

Despite being charge-sheeted, Jogi has so far escaped being sacked. This is despite advice from senior Congress leaders such as Arjun Singh, Motilal Vohra, Manmohan Singh and Shyama Charan Shukla. They are at a loss to understand why Sonia has not shown him the door as usually, charge-sheeted CMs or ministers are made to quit office. Several other leaders like Arvind Netam have already left. (He joined the NCP.)

Grapevine has it that Sonia has asked Ahmed Patel to ask Jogi to ‘contain’ his son. This is in addition to her personal dressing down of the CM when she met him recently. Jogi has escaped so far on the plea that charges against him are politically motivated. How long his explanation is considered feasible is anybody’s guess.

Sonia Gandhi has taken a conscious decision to defend her foreign origin. The news is that this issue was discussed among her close advisers and it was Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who has forcefully argued that she should take the offensive — and not continuously defend the ‘charges’ made against her.

That was why Sonia took on her critics in Jaipur when she chose the filmi line: “What is it that I have not followed of the Indian dharma since I became the bahu of Indira Gandhi?”

Incidentally, while the points and sometimes even the scripts for Sonia’s speeches come from the pens of various people such as Janardhan Dwivedi, Natwar Singh, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Jairam Ramesh, the final okay comes from Priyanka. So it’s wise to take what she says seriously.

Who says that the Ambanis lie outside the charmed circle of Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani? It may have been so earlier, but of late, the Ambanis have access to Advani and have built bridges with him.

Those who attended the wedding of Advani’s son Jayant last week were surprised to see Anil Ambani and his wife, Tina, the only bigwigs from the industrialist tribe to be spotted in the VVIP circle where the prime minister, the president and Advani’s family were seated.

Nusli Wadia, who is considered close to Advani, was present at the wedding, but left early to host his own party at the Oberoi. The other big industrialists like the Ruias and the Daftaris were outside the VVIP enclosure.

While the Ambanis have access to the PM, Advani had not let them come closer all these years. However, when Dhirubhai died, Advani went to the funeral. The secret behind this new-found closeness is that Advani is an MP from Gujarat. No one can afford to ignore the Ambanis in that state. Therefore, the best way is to break the ice and be friendly. And that suits both parties.

First Published: Oct 23, 2003 18:43 IST