Raipur/Bhopal, Sept. 28: Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi flashed the “loyalty card” amid growing pressure from political rivals to corner him on a controversy surrounding his tribal status.
BJP MP Dalpat Singh Paraste has filed a caveat in Jabalpur High Court to prevent the chief minister from getting ex-parte relief against the Shahdol chief judicial magistrate’s order directing police to register a case against Jogi under several sections, including Section 420, for acquiring a “forged” tribal status certificate.
Raipur is also agog with rumours that the CBI is set to file a case against the chief minister for allegedly submitting a “forged document” that was touted as a report from the Intelligence Bureau.
Bilaspur High Court is set to give a crucial ruling on Jogi’s tribal status in response to the adverse observations made by the Central Scheduled Castes and Tribes Commission.
Apart from these legal tangles, Jogi’s opponents within the Congress and outside are tightening the noose.
On Friday, in Bhopal and Raipur, BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan questioned the Congress’ allegations against Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti in the Ayodhya demolition case and pointed at the Shahdol court order accusing Jogi of forgery.
Within the Congress, rivals Shyama Charan Shukla, Motilal Vora and Arvind Netam have stepped up their “oust-Jogi” campaign.
There are reports that their move has the “blessings” of a powerful AICC general secretary considered close to Sonia Gandhi. The rivals are arguing that at the time of elections, the Congress cannot afford to have a “tainted” and “controversial man” leading the party.
Faced with these challenges, Jogi has flashed the “loyalty card” — loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family. His camp is busy circulating five points:
The chief minister is Sonia’s crucial link with leaders like Kanshi Ram and Mayavati. After the 2004 general elections, the Congress chief would need his services to hammer out a functional relationship with the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Jogi is Sonia’s own choice while most chief ministers select themselves. The Congress president had picked him when Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in November 2000.
The “Priyanka/Rahul factor” — the young Gandhis are said to like him. Jogi was the lone Congress leader who attended a private ceremony in remembrance of Richard Vadra, estranged brother of Priyanka’s husband Robert Vadra.
AICC general secretaries cannot stomach his “direct phone line” access to Sonia and her children.
Jogi is Sonia’s trusted pointman. The Chhattisgarh chief minister was suddenly rushed to Lucknow recently to attend a function of the Jaamiat-e-Ulema, an influential Muslim group sympathetic to the Congress. He was sent to represent Sonia, who could not attend the meet.
The chief minister has been summoned to the Shahdol court on October 16. He was said to be planning to move Jabalpur High Court against the order but Paraste’s caveat has forestalled prospects of any ex-parte relief.
In his application, Paraste said that if Jogi moves the high court against his prosecution, he (Paraste) should be heard before any interim order is granted. Jogi had lost the 1999 Lok Sabha polls against Paraste from Shahdol.