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VC Shukla in trouble

The sympathy wave unleashed in the wake of Ajit Jogi's near fatal accident has hit his wily opponent the veteran politician Vidya Charan Shukla.
PTI | By Pradip Kumar Maitra, Mahasamund
PUBLISHED ON APR 18, 2004 04:46 PM IST

The sympathy wave unleashed in the wake of  Ajit Jogi's  near fatal accident has hit his wily opponent the veteran politician Vidya Charan Shukla,  who is contesting against him in the Mahasamund constituency.

Apart from the spate of yagnas and fasting being undertaken by scores of common folk for speedy recovery of the former Chief Minister, Jogi supporters have launched a vigorous campaign in his constituency.

The Congress supporters are now busy showing video films of a badly injured Jogi lying in the Bombay Hospital bed to appeal to voters to cast their votes for the Congress. The appeal also pulls at the heartstrings of the common man by expressing regret that their leader is unable to meet them in the wake of the tragedy. By doing so, the Congress has succeeded in generating sympathy in favour of the former chief minister in his constituency.

Even as the deadline for the hustings draws near, eight vans with projectors are frantically projecting Jogi's 'plight' and `helplessness', in a large number of villages in the Mahasamund constituency. Result: the campaign is drawing good response.

Besides, top Congress leaders and politicians, like Delhi chief minister, Sheila Dixit and  former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh, have made the rounds  in Mahasamund to pitch in for the injured Jogi. Ironically, Jogi's vehicle dashing a tree and injuring him badly has come as a boon in disguise as even his bitter rivals in the Congress are now backing him to target their former colleague, Vidya Charan Shukla.

"We are united and campaigning the elections as we are contesting the poll," said Aishwarya Tiwari, president of Mahasamund unit of Mahila Congress. She claimed that  the Congress has improved its position drastically within the last couple of days. Jogi has clearly an edge  in the constituency and Vidya Charan is in the receiving end, Aishwarya added.

Fearing that the tables may be turned on him, a panicky Shukla met Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee at the Mana Airport here on Friday and requested him to address at least one meeting in his constituency. However, Vajpayee disappointed him by only giving flimsy assurances that he would try to visit his constituency.

Shukla, in his desperation, even complained against the union minister and the party candidate from Raipur, Ramesh Bais, who is contesting against his elder brother Shyama Charan. He alleged that Bais instead of helping him reportedly reached a tacit understanding with Jogi. Bais is an influential OBC face in the saffron party and a known bete-noire of Vidya Charan. Earlier he had vehemently opposed Shukla's entry in the BJP and had also opposed allocation of a ticket to him from Mahasamund.

Looking at the fast changing and mind-jolting scenario that is unraveling in Mahasamund, poll pundits predict a nail-biting finish in the Jogi versus Shukla battle in this rural constituency.

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