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JOGI CAUGHT IN BOOK ROW 

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FROM SUCHANDANA GUPTA   |   Raipur   |   Published 03.12.01, 12:00 AM

Raipur, Dec. 3 :    Raipur, Dec. 3:  The storm over his tribal status is yet to die down but Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi has already found himself in another controversy. The author of the banned book Brahman Kumar Ravan Ko Mat Maro has claimed that Jogi was the 'inspiration' behind the volume. Though the publisher, printer and author have been arrested, Jogi is still having to contend with a very vocal BJP. Trouble started after the author, Nand Kumar Baghel, who is the father of Jogi's revenue minister Bhupesh Baghel, held a series of public meetings claiming he was 'inspired' to write the book after Jogi became chief minister. Jogi claims he is a tribal Christian. Baghel belongs to a Scheduled Tribe. The book was never officially released and no one can remember exactly when it hit the stands till it became the centre of a caste controversy about a month ago. Around mid-October, Chhattisgarh went berserk with every man looking for a copy after word spread that the book eulogised Jogi as a demigod who had thrown an open challenge to upper-caste Hindus who dominate Indian politics. The book contained Jogi's photograph and the author's preface called the chief minister his 'inspiration'. Veteran Congress leader V.C. Shukla, Jogi's chief bete noire, shoved more fuel into the fire after he said Baghel had openly spoken against upper-caste Hindus at a farmers' conference in Kasdol on April 16, where Jogi was also present. 'Baghel has now written down his thoughts. It has been published,' Shukla added on October 22. Jogi denied being anybody's 'inspiration'. 'I have never given permission to the author to consider me as an inspiration for such a book. I want to make it clear that I do not agree with the thoughts and views of the author,' he said. To prove his point, Jogi ordered the book to be banned. The police raided the printing press at Saraswati Nagar and seized 180 hardcover copies and 2,681 paperbacks. The printer and publisher were arrested that night but it was not until November 4 that the author was picked up. Baghel is now out on bail. But just when Jogi thought the storm had blown over, the state BJP raked up the issue again. On Tuesday, BJP leader Brij Mohan Agarwal brought up the issue in the Assembly under a call attention motion. Agarwal quizzed home minister Nand Kumar Patel asking him on what grounds the book was banned. When Patel said the administration feared possible communal tension, Agarwal asked him why there had been delay in banning the book and in the arrest of the author. The home minister retaliated, saying he knew some BJP MLAs had copies of the volume and threatened to arrest them. He also said marshalls be allowed to search the members for copies so that police action could be taken against them. It triggered another fusillade. 'Your chief minister is the inspiration behind a book with nasty comments aimed at a religion. Your minister's father is the author of the book and you threaten to arrest us,' the BJP MLAs roared and walked out after demanding the home minister's resignation, forcing the deputy speaker to adjourn proceedings. Patel later apologised, but the BJP is far from satisfied. It now wants a high-level committee to probe the contents of the book, including the bit on 'inspiration'.    


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