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Raipur (Urban)

An interesting contest is on cards in the state capital's hart Raipur (Urban) constituency-where chief minister Ajit Jogi is training all his guns to blast the clout of Brijmohan Agrawal, his bete noire and the vocal BJP leader and sitting MLA.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2003 12:37 IST

An interesting contest is on cards in the state capital's hart Raipur (Urban) constituency-where chief minister Ajit Jogi is training all his guns to blast the clout of Brijmohan Agrawal, his bete noire and the vocal BJP leader and sitting MLA. Agrawal is seking re-election for the fourth consecutive term.

Jogi, has fielded his trusted lieutenant, Gajraj Pagaria, a city builder and a former close aide of State NCP supreme, VC Shukla, despite stiff opposition from party veterans, Shyama Charan Shukla and Motilal Vohra, to give a strong fight to Agrawal. Reason -- Agarwal had virtually made things miserable for the wily Jogi.

Agrawal, who was nominated as the “Best MLA” in undivided Madhya Pradesh Assembly, kept the Chhattisgarh Assembly `live’ in last three years. A de facto leader of the Opposition, the vocal BJP legislator, did not even hesitate to equate Jogi with Hitler. While terming him as autocract, he pointed out that Hitler was also born in a poor family.

Jogi is now hell bent on preventing Agrawal from scraping through to the assembly this time. He has even privately told several people that he would somehow ensure the defeat of Birj Mohan. Pagaria, a former deputy mayor of Raipur Municipal Corporation is also a good match for Agrawal as politics apart he is also a leading businessman.

The PCC secretary, Paras Chopra, a close associate of Shyama Charan and with strong links with 10, Janpath, was a strong contender for the seat. Besides, Gangaram Sharma, a protégé of Vohra, was also an aspirant.

However, Jogi prevailed that his was the right choice in fielding Pagaria. “I am well aware that the contest is not between me and Pagaria. The Congress nominee is a dummy. It is purely between me and Jogi,” Agrawal quipped. He said that he has been telling his voters that they should pick up a candidate who can deliver the best for them.

“Voters of my constituency know that I am the best in fray and that’s why I am certain to win again,” claimed the BJP leader.

A former minister of undivided Madhya Pradesh, Agrawal, who has been winning from Raipur (Urban) constituency since 1990, succeeded to increase his victory margins in every elections. It is primarily because he has nurtured his constituency very well, being in constant touch with his voters and always willing to lend a helping hand in crisis.

He won the 1990 elections by defeating his nearest Congress rival, Swarup Chand Jain with a meager 2700-odd votes. In 1993, he defeated Congress nominee, Rajkumar Singhania with margin of over 11,500 votes. He maintained the margin in last elections. In 1998 election, he bagged 56.41 per cent of votes while his Congress rival, Paras Chopra, got only 41.92 per cent of votes.

The Congress knows the fact that it would be a tough seat to win. The chief minister Jogi has made it clear to Pagaria to go in full gear as his own prestige is at stake.

To counter Jogi’s game plan, the BJP has reached a`tacit’ understanding with the NCP to field a Muslim candidate, Salam Rizvi, to upset Jogi’s apple cart. There are at least 30,000 Muslim voters in this constituency and its worth watching what Jogi has up his sleeve to counter this move of the BJP.

First Published: Nov 29, 2003 12:37 IST