The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jogi trip sparks shrine clean-up

Raipur, Aug. 3: First Ajit Jogi went temple-hopping seeking divine blessings. Now, it is Union minister of state for environment and forests Dilip Singh Judeo’s turn to “cleanse” these shrines with Ganga jal.

Come October, Judeo — the BJP’s chief ministerial aspirant — will start on a yatra to purify the Danteshwari, Bamleshwari and Mahamaya Devi temples and atone for the chief minister’s “sins”.

An air-conditioned Swaraj Mazda rath is being readied in Chandigarh to help Judeo transport Ganga jal across Chhattisgarh ahead of November’s Assembly elections.

Judeo says Jogi has “polluted” the three temples where non-Hindus are discouraged from entering. He feels the chief minister has compounded the error by taking along Sonia Gandhi to some of the temples. Jogi and the Congress chief are Christians, and the Union minister thinks they should not have visited these temples.

Sources say Judeo has sought clearance for his yatra from central BJP leaders, but is yet to get the go-ahead. The top brass wants to gauge the public mood before giving the green signal.

Relations between Jogi and the BJP have hit an all-time low after the chief minister drafted Priyam Sai, the daughter of the Opposition leader in Chhattisgarh, into the Congress on July 19.

Yesterday, state home minister Nand Kumar Patel angered BJP MLAs in the House by alleging that Atal Bihari Vajapyee and BJP leaders had “consumed chicken” and offered Chhattisgarh nothing during the party’s recent national executive meeting in Raipur.

In the state capital, news of Judeo’s yatra is seen in the context of the growing tension between the BJP and the Congress. Jogi’s supporters have made it clear they will resist Judeo’s “politically motivated” cleansing drive. They say Judeo is raising controversial issues like re-conversion of tribals into the Hindu fold.

Jogi has rubbished Judeo’s remarks, saying he is a practising Hindu and a son of the soil. The chief minister said the Union minister’s “irresponsible remarks” were not going down well with the masses, who are fed up with his actions.

He said Judeo’s attempt to drag Sonia into the matter was in poor taste. Jogi said Sonia had stated long ago that as the bahu of the Nehru-Gandhi family, she was following all their traditions, including visiting temples.

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