The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Eye on poll, Cong backs CM

New Delhi, Oct. 7: With the election schedule already announced, the Congress had no choice but to back Ajit Jogi by asserting that it could not ask the Chhattisgarh chief minister to resign because of the “flimsy and frivolous” CBI chargesheet.

“We have not asked Jogi to resign. We treat the so-called chargesheet filed by the CBI as a malignant political exercise. It is a half-baked case which has been fabricated by the CBI in a unholy hurry. It is an election gimmick and will not stand scrutiny of the court,” chief spokesperson Jaipal Reddy said at a media briefing late in the evening.

Reddy’s statement came after party chief Sonia Gandhi convened a meeting with senior colleagues. Sources said the leadership took into consideration the consequences of replacing Giridhar Gamang with Hemanand Biswal as chief minister in Orissa on the eve of the last Assembly elections in the state.

Reddy said the chargesheet was motivated by the BJP’s desperation to wrest Chhattisgarh from the Congress and its indecent nature was evident from the fact that it was filed a day after the announcement of the election schedule. The CBI, he added, was becoming a tool of intimidation, suppression, oppression and incrimination in the hands of the Vajpayee government.

In such circumstances, “we cannot allow the Vajpayee government to decide who should be chargesheeted and who should not be; which chief minister should be singled out for chargesheet and which chief minister should not be”, he said.

Since the chargesheet was politically motivated, the Congress would fight it politically rather than ask Jogi to step down, the spokesman asserted.

Asked if the party’s support to Jogi did not violate its stand that chargesheeted ministers should quit, Reddy said since the chargesheet was in bad faith, the leadership was treating it as an “exception to the principle”.

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