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Vajpayee corruption barb at Jogi

Ambikapur (Chhattisgarh), Nov. 22: Embroiled in a bribery scandal, Dilip Singh Judeo today got the support he needed at home. And it came from no less a person than the Prime Minister.

In his first election rally in poll-bound Chhattisgarh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee projected the former Union minister as a “victim” of Congress chief minister Ajit Jogi’s “double standards vis-à-vis corruption”. In the same breath, he slammed Jogi for not resigning after the CBI chargesheeted him for forgery.

“There cannot be varying moral standards with regard to corruption,” the Prime Minister said, taking the battle right into the enemy camp.

Vajpayee said Judeo, who was shown on video CD accepting cash in return for mining lease rights in Chhattisgarh and Orissa, “quit his ministry and I immediately accepted his resignation letter”. But the chief minister, who had been charged with submitting a complaint with forged documents as evidence, refused to step down.

“The staying-in- and staying-out-of-power standards for two ministers amount to a double standard,” Vajpayee said as the 50,000 strong crowd, mostly tribals, at the college ground here applauded.

The Prime Minister was flanked by most of the senior BJP leaders of the state, including Ramesh Vyas and Raman Singh, though Judeo, the BJP’s unofficial chief ministerial candidate in the state, was absent during his speech.

Vajpayee regaled the crowd with his description of “Jogi raj” in the state. “The way the state is being ruled is a subject of discussion everywhere. Conspiracy and manipulation are the bane of the chief minister,” he said, adding: “Sajis hai… sajis me sajis ka bhi mamla hai (There are conspiracies but there are cases of conspiracies within conspiracies).”

Vajpayee said the CBI, which was asked to probe Jogi’s allegations that the Intelligence Bureau was out to defame Congress leaders, had accused the chief minister of furnishing fake papers as evidence.

“For the last 50 years, the CBI was doing a good job but when it dared to chargesheet Jogi, it ceased to be an impartial agency in the estimation of this chief minister,” the Prime Minister said to another round of laughter.

Today’s rally in Surguja, north Chhattisgarh, appeared to have been well timed. The tribal-dominated area has just begun to respond favourably to BJP leaders. Although the Congress still controls over 50 per cent of the tribal votes, going by the last Assembly polls, the BJP’s vote share has increased by 6 per cent since 1993.

The Prime Minister also drew attention to the pervasive poverty despite abundant resources and the Naxalite menace. Regretting that Chhattisgarh had failed to make strides despite being carved out of Madhya Pradesh for faster development, he said the people were aware of how much progress the state had made and they could exercise their franchise considering such aspects.

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