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Stiff test for Jogi's skills

Chhattisgarh is set to witness a fierce battle between the ruling Cong led by Ajit Jogi and state NCP chief VC Shukla in the coming state polls.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2003 02:40 IST
Pradip Kumar Maitra
Pradip Kumar Maitra

The stage is set for a fierce battle between the ruling Congress led by Ajit Jogi and former Congress stalwart and current state NCP chief Vidya Charan Shukla in the coming assembly polls in Chhattisgarh.

In trouble over his 'autocratic' style of functioning, the CBI chargesheet and the foreign citizenship row involving his son, Jogi is virtually fighting for political survival.

On the other hand, the septuagenarian Shukla is fighting his last battle. "This is a do-or-die election for Shukla," said a NCP leader. Shukla had left the Congress to join the NCP when he realised it would be difficult to unseat Jogi to become CM. Though successful in winning over many disgruntled anti-Jogi Congress leaders, Shukla may, however, end up boosting the BJP's chances.

The current political scenario has rejuvenated the BJP. State BJP chief Dr Raman Singh claimed the party would get an absolute majority in the polls. “We won 36 seats out of 90 in the last elections and lost 20 seats by meagre margins,” he said. The NCP, BSP and the emerging 'Third Front' would affect the Congress and benefit the BJP, he said.

However, it is not that all is well within the BJP. The party, which has projected chief ministerial candidates in Rajasthan, MP and Delhi, has failed to do so in Chhattisgarh due to internal bickering.

The BJP and the NCP will target Jogi for his involvement in several controversies. Jogi has other problems to tackle too. He is facing a case in a Madhya Pradesh court for allegedly procuring a false caste certificate. PCC spokesman Shailesh Nitin Trivedi, however, said there was little reason to believe such allegations as the A.B. Vajpayee government had been ‘harassing’ Jogi ever since he became CM.

The Congress and Jogi has another problem — keeping their house united. It is alleged that Jogi had tried to marginalise the influence of established leaders like the Shukla brothers, Industries Minister Mahendra Karma, Education Minister Satya Narayan Sharma, Sports Minister Shankar Sodi and Civil Supplies Minister Chaneshram Rathia.

With the elections being turned into a virtual battle between the CM and the rest, it seems they are an acid test more for Jogi than his party.

First Published: Oct 22, 2003 22:24 IST