The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Banished from party at stroke of midnight

New Delhi, Dec. 6: The tremors from Raipur rocked Delhi as the Congress high command banished its discredited “caretaker chief minister” in Chhattisgarh, Ajit Jogi, soon after BJP allegations that he had tried to buy off its legislators.

At the stroke of midnight, Congress general secretary Ambika Soni announced that Jogi stood “suspended” forthwith from the party for “wrongly” using party president Sonia Gandhi’s name in his alleged bid to split the BJP and prevent the formation of the new government headed by Raman Singh.

Soni’s announcement came within minutes of Union law minister Arun Jaitley’s news conference in Raipur, where he played an audio tape in which Jogi invoked Sonia’s name in a conversation with two Chhattisgarh BJP leaders purportedly to engineer a division in the BJP legislature party.

The high command’s quick move against Jogi came as it is convinced that he would land the party in more trouble in the days to come because the new BJP government is expected to go after him. The leadership was already peeved with him, as it now believes that the party had to suffer the electoral drubbing in Chhattisgarh primarily because of his abrasive style of functioning.

Jogi’s suspension means he will no longer be allowed to enter the Congress headquarters tomorrow morning to attend the working committee meeting to which he was invited yesterday.

Even before the bribe bombshell was dropped, the forecast wasn’t pleasant for Jogi — and the two other chief ministers who lost — at the meeting, which promises to be a “heated affair”.

There were indications from the party headquarters that Jogi, Ashok Gehlot and Digvijay Singh would lose their unquestioned leadership of the party in their states. Digvijay has already counted himself out of the race for the leadership of the Madhya Pradesh Congress unit and the legislature party leadership.

But Jogi and Gehlot had made known their reluctance to quit the legislature party leadership. Jogi’s case is lost, and the sources said Sonia might not be in a position to retain the Rajasthan leader.

“We understand that she feels betrayed by both Jogi and Gehlot. She backed the two when they were under attack from their detractors in the respective state units of the party. She reposed trust in them and expected them to deliver results in the crucial Assembly polls,” said a party leader.

The sources said in Chhattisgarh, the party needs a leader who, unlike Jogi, would project the party and not himself. And, in Rajasthan, the party needs to project someone under whom the Congress’ traditional coalition of Jats, Adivasis, Muslims and Harijans could be revived.

Email This Page