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  India   All India  31 Dec 2018  Ajit Jogi rediscovers political relevance as a third force

Ajit Jogi rediscovers political relevance as a third force

THE ASIAN AGE. | RABINDRA NATH CHOUDHURY
Published : Dec 31, 2018, 5:47 am IST
Updated : Dec 31, 2018, 5:47 am IST

Cong threw Jogi out alleging that he helped BJP win 2003, 2008 and 2013 polls as he is close to saffron party’s ex-CM Raman Singh.

A file photo of Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) chief Ajit Jogi and BSP supremo Mayawati during a press conference to announce the two parties’ alliance in the tribal state.
 A file photo of Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) chief Ajit Jogi and BSP supremo Mayawati during a press conference to announce the two parties’ alliance in the tribal state.

Raipur: Former chief minister Ajit Jogi has emerged neither as a kingmaker nor a king in the November Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh as predicted by many psephologists, but he could withstand a pro-Congress wave that decimated the BJP in the polls, thus reinforcing his political relevance in the state.

The show put up by his fledgling Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) (JCC) party has being seen as one of two key takeaways from the recently held Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh that may have significant ramifications in state politics and also impact the outcome of Lok Sabha polls.

Although JCC along with its poll partner BSP could hardly garner seven out of total 90 Assembly seats belying predictions of a strong show by it, the performance by the two-month-old alliance, nevertheless, has been viewed as no less significant, considering the handicaps faced by Mr Jogi such as paucity of time to take his poll symbol to the electorate and serious funds crunch during the elections. While JCC won five seats, its ally secured two seats.

“The JCC was registered as a political party in 2016, but got poll symbol barely a couple of months before the Assembly elections, leaving the party hardly any time to woo the voters. Besides, people in rural Chhattisgarh still have the perception that Mr Jogi is in Congress due to false propaganda during the elections that he belonged to the party,” JCC spokesman Nitin Bhansali told this newspaper.

“The JCC was a victim of mistaken identity (of Mr Jogi),” he added.

According to him, the party could have fared better had it removed Congress from its name. The party’s name “Janata Congress” has caused confusion among voters leading to its identity crisis.

The party came a close second in 11 other seats and secured more than 30 per cent vote share in another 15 Assembly constituencies.

In at least two of 11 Lok Sabha seats — Bilashpur and Janjgir — the party’s vote share was higher than that of the BJP and the Congress.

The JCC (7.6 per cent) along with its election partner the BSP (3.9 per cent) together got 11.5 per cent of total votes polled in the state and came third after the Congress (43 per cent) and BJP (33 per cent) as far as vote shares of the parties were concerned.

That the party could barely manage to place a quarter page of advertisements in just five newspapers due to lack of funds spoke volumes of its lackluster campaign.

“Despite this, the JCC for the first time is recognised as a regional party in Chhattisgarh by the Election Commission. It is no mean feat,” Mr Bhansali pointed out.

He may not be off the mark in his observation if the circumstances under which the JCC had taken the plunge into the November polls, are taken into account.

The party faced desertion of leaders and workers in hordes barely a couple of months before the elections for fear of its future. Mr Jogi was admitted to a hospital in Delhi with serious ailments.

The Congress had then seized the opportunity to break the party by running a campaign that the JCC was a sinking boat.

Mr Jogi, wheelchair-bound ever since he met with a road accident in east Chhattisgarh district of Mahasamund in April 2004, infused a fresh lease of life to the party by successfully wooing BSP supremo Mayawati to forge alliance with the JCC.

The Congress, however, seems happy that it booted out Ajit Jogi at the right time to record a landslide victory.

“Ajit Jogi was a stumbling block in the Congress coming to power in the 2003, 2008 and 2013 Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, because of his alleged proximity with the former chief minister Raman Singh,” a Congress spokesman said here.

The party high command was wary of taking action against him since he was considered indispensable to the part. But, the recent polls have established that no leader is indispensable, the spokesman said.

The Jogi camp too appears happy with its leader breaking away from the Congress as the JCC has consolidated its position as the third force in Chhattisgarh and is likely to grow into a key political force in the predominantly tribal state.

Tags: ajit jogi, mayawati