The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jogi seeks role in MP

New Delhi, Sept. 28: Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi is seeking to play alliance-maker in party rival Digvijay Singh’s Madhya Pradesh on the basis of his proximity to the Bahujan Samaj Party leadership.

Digvijay, who is believed to be wooing BSP chief Mayavati to bail him out in the Assembly polls later this year, may not like the prospect of depending on Jogi to reach out to her. But Jogi is cleverly manoeuvring his rapport with both Kanshi Ram and Mayavati to become a factor in Digvijay’s poll calculations.

Political observers might see Jogi as helping Digvijay, but the Madhya Pradesh chief minister is unlikely to buy this interpretation. Jogi has in the past suspected Digvijay’s hand in his legal troubles over an alleged fake caste certificate.

Sources said Jogi is negotiating with the BSP for a tie-up with the Congress, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, where the party’s internal surveys have been bleak about its election prospects. The Congress leadership might also be looking for BSP help in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, they added.

Jogi held another round of discussions with Mayavati in Raipur today. He had met party chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday to brief her about his talks with the BSP. The briefing was significant as Jogi and Digvijay seldom communicate with each other.

Jogi, however, may find Mayavati a tough customer, despite their friendship. BSP sources said the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister was “very livid with Jogi’s remarks in the media” the other day that Kanshi Ram wanted him to fulfil his “unrealised dream” of empowering Dalits.

She is anyway believed to have conveyed to Jogi categorically that the BSP would not enter any secret understanding with the Congress. “Any alliance with the Congress will have to be open,” a party source said. Otherwise, talk of any kind of tie-up will arise only after the polls, Mayavati is believed to have told Jogi.

Mayavati’s reluctance arises partly out of her “disappointment” with Digvijay after he snatched most of her 11 MLAs after the 1998 Assembly polls, despite their tacit deal. She is also keen to escape her political isolation after the fall of her government in Uttar Pradesh.

Congress sources said she has staked claim to at least 30 of Madhya Pradesh’s 230 Assembly seats. “Let alone agreeing to leave some seats, the Congress has not even made its views known on the question of a formal tie-up that the BSP is demanding,” a BSP source said.

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