The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP plans counter to Jogi ads

New Delhi, July 22: A huge ad released by the Chhattisgarh Voters’ Forum against the alleged omissions and commissions of the NDA government has provoked the BJP to launch a counter-offensive against Congress-ruled states before the make-or-mar Assembly polls.

The BJP is convinced the ad, splashed over whole pages of Raipur dailies, was put out by the Congress and specifically chief minister Ajit Jogi.

Chhattisgarh BJP sources admitted the only election issue was Jogi, and his gigantic cutouts, complemented by those of Sonia Gandhi, ended up overshadowing those of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The ad figured in the BJP parliamentary party meeting this morning. After party chief M. Venkaiah Naidu briefed MPs about the Raipur executive, it was suggested that something should be done to counter the Congress campaign.

Parliamentary party spokesman V.K. Malhotra said: “The Congress ads in the four states (going to polls in November) were vicious, mischievous and full of lies.”

The BJP’s strategy was to expedite probes against Congress leaders under the CBI scanner, including Jogi. The Centre alleged that an Intelligence Bureau document he released some time ago — claiming the agency was trying to falsely implicate him — was forged. The CBI is looking into the case.

Asked what the other cases against Congress leaders were, BJP sources fumbled. A leader mentioned a “lokpal investigation” into the conduct of Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit but had no details. The BJP could only think of the old cases against former Union ministers Sheila Kaul and P.K. Thungon in the housing scam.

An aarop patra the BJP released against Jogi during the Raipur conclave showed it had its task cut out. The glossy 63-page “chargesheet” morphed the ever-smiling chief minister into a Hitler incarnate in a khaki uniform, with a lathi in one hand and a sackful of petrified people — Hindus, Muslims, farmers, traders, students — in the other, and dubbed him “authoritarian, corrupt and undemocratic”.

What were the BJP’s charges against Jogi' He was appointed by the Pope (he’s a Christian); he lied about his caste and passed himself off as a tribal; his role models are Idi Amin, Hitler and Saddam Hussein; he burnt the Prime Minister’s effigy; he sells liquor; he’s thick with the ultra-Left rebels holed up in the Bastar forests; he levied taxes on traders (the BJP’s core constituency); and he was blind to his son’s faults.

What did the Congress-sponsored ad say about the NDA government' Everything from the Kargil coffin, petrol pump, land allotment for the RSS, UTI, Tehelka, Sebi, telecom migration from licence system to revenue-sharing system, CAS. It had cartoons of Bangaru Laxman taking money from the Tehelka arms dealer and Naidu “usurping” land belonging to Dalits.

In the battle between Jogi and the Centre, locals say much depends on who the BJP projects as its chief minister. The toss-up is between Raipur MLA Brajmohan Aggrawal — who prepared the “chargesheet” — and Chhattisgarh BJP chief and former Union minister Raman Singh.

The BJP is also looking at NCP leader Vidya Charan Shukla, given his potential to damage the Congress.

But as of now, Jogi does not have a challenger.

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