Will Jogi's new party prove to be the Congress nemesis in Chhattisgarh?
New Party, no name
- Ajit Jogi floats new party which doesn\'t have a name yet
- The party agenda is not clear either
- Ajit Jogi will be working to displace Ramn Singh in the upcoming polls
- He is also aiming at cutting the Congress vote bank in the state
More in the story
- Why Ajit Jogi formed his new party
- Mega event planned in November for formal party announcements
"Salim tumhe marne nahin dega aur Anarkali hum tumhe jeene nahin denge (Salim would not let you die and Anarkali, I would not let you live)," This famous dialogue from the epic movie Mughal-e-Azam is quite popular these days in the power corridors of Chhattisgarh.
The context is the formation of a new party by the former Chief Minister and Congress leader Ajit Jogi. He recently made his decision public at a rally in the Kotmi region of Marwahi.
Also read: Ajit Jogi may quit Congress, float own party
While encouraging his supporters to back the yet unnamed party, Jogi invoked the Mughal emperor Akbar.
"When Akbar used to go to battle, his wife Maharani Jodha would perform Tilak ceremony and hand over the sword to him," he reminded the audience, while adding that his MLA wife Renu Jogi also did the same when he geared up to establish his own party.
According to Jogi, his better half told him to "go out and strive for the freedom of Chhattisgarh," and the fiery leader has vowed to free the state from the Raman Singh government.
However, the Akbar analogy has fueled gossip that Jogi considers Rahul Gandhi as Akbar's son Salim (Jahangir) and his former party is nothing more than Anarkali, a kaneez or handmaid, to him.
No name, no agenda yet
Ajit Jogi has not yet named his new party. The political agenda of this upcoming political group is also not clear yet
It remains to be seen whether this new party will damage the BJP or will it further weaken the Congress in Chhattisgarh.
The political analysts believe Jogi is trying to repeat what the late Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla did to his government in the 2003 Assembly elections.
Like Jogi, Shukla had also quit the Congress to form a group called Chhattisgarh Sangharsh Parishad.
Shukla had used this outfit to campaign against the then Jogi government and joined Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) before the elections. He had fielded candidates in 90 constituencies and was successful in dividing the Congress vote bank.
Waiting for the return of 'golden days'
VC Shukla's antics had contributed to Congress' defeat in those elections. Jogi has been waiting for the return of his golden days ever since.
The Congress refrained from projecting Jogi as CM candidate in the next two State elections post the 2003 debacle. Also it was mainly because his son Amit Jogi was charged with the murder of NCP treasurer Ramavtar Jaggi and sent to jail.
The party tried to placate Jogi by giving tickets to both his son and wife. While both became MLAs, Jogi was not given the command of the state party unit. He was not given an opportunity to become the leader of Opposition either.
BK Hariprasad, Congress General Secretary in charge of Chhattisgarh, attributes Jogi's alleged role in fixing the Antagarh by-election as the reason for his decline in the party.
"The Congress has given a lot to Jogi. He was given a Rajya Sabha berth. He was made a member of Parliament. But, Jogi lost his credibility after the audio tapes indicting him in the Antagarh controversy came out," said Hariprasad.
"Jogi was vying for the Rajya Sabha ticket this time as well. However, he was miffed when the party chose Chhaya Verma over him," Hariprasad further alleged.
Reinstating lost credibility
Ajit Jogi has been accused of working against the interests of upper castes and the trader community in the state. He tried to steer clear of this image during the Kotmi rally by trying to forge a new formula of social engineering.
This is the reason he paid homage to Pandit Sunderlal Sharma, the legendary pro-Dalit leader, and at the same time, remembered Barrister Chhedi Lal Thakur, the great freedom fighter and an upper caste icon of the state.
Jogi tried to allay the fears of the traders by promising to abolish all taxes if he comes to power. He also pledged to end the 'Inspector Raj' in the state so that the business community could flourish. It is difficult to predict whether these assurances will cut ice with the electorate.
But, Jogi's attempts to portray himself as the leader of all castes and classes is evident nowadays. He is frequently seen sharing meals at Langars (charity kitchens) and visiting the houses of peasants asking them for food. This new avatar of Jogi seems to be appealing to a lot of people.
Supporters within the Congress
Jogi is believed to have a considerable support among Congress MLAs as well as organisational leaders of the party.
Yet, most of the Jogi supporters are not keen for revolt, at least for now. With elections still two-and-a-half years away, pro-Jogi MLAs will certainly be disqualified under the anti-defection law if they decide to join Jogi's party at this stage.
The important functionaries of the party also don't find it to be an opportune time to break ranks. They don't want to lose their posts and are prefering to wait-and-watch for the time being.
Still, Jogi has a good team of young leaders. While State Youth Congress President Uttam Vasudev does not hide his close links to Jogi, he till claims to be loyal to the Congress, stating that the party has given him so much.
Political observers believe that many leaders who support Jogi will switch loyalties just before the Assembly elections as the anti-defection law will not be a deterrence at that time.
The end game
For now, Jogi and his supporters are focusing on organising a mega event in November. The event, likely to be held in Raipur, will see the formal announcement of the name of Jogi's party.
Jogi is also trying to rope in several regional stalwarts like Nitish Kumar, Jayalalitha and Mamata Banerjee for the event. There are plans to invite Rahul Gandhi's staunch adversary Jagan Mohan Reddy as well.
There are speculations that Jogi's party will contest all the 90 seats in the next elections to cut through the Congress votes.
Analysts believe Jogi is indulging in anti-Raman Singh rhetoric as he wants to wash-off the allegations of colluding with the chief minister, especially during in the Antagarh episode.
Jogi's party could also be an option for disgruntled elements of BJP who fail to secure a ticket during the next elections.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen