Congress downplays Ajit Jogi’s exit; MLAs backing him to face action

Congress in Chhattisgarh on Monday said exit of former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi will have no adverse impact on fortunes of the party in the tribal-dominated state and indicated disciplinary action against MLAs and leaders who publicly supported him.
Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee (CPCC) President Bhupesh Baghel said the party high command will be informed about the party MLAs and leaders who attended a public meeting where Jogi announced decision to float his own political outfit.
The meeting was held in Marwahi in Bilaspur district, about 250km from here.
“Jogi himself said he is a free man now and released a declaration in connection with formation of a new party at a public meeting in Marwahi.
“The party high command will be informed about the Congress legislators and leaders who took part in the programme,” Baghel said.
Baghel denied suggestion Jogi’s exit is a blow to his party in the BJP-ruled state, where Assembly polls are due in end-2018. Instead, it will benefit the main Opposition party.
“The formation of Jogi’s new party will not have any (adverse) impact on Congress. In fact, BJP cashed on the (negative) image of Jogi in the previous polls. Now the party (Congress) will be saved from this loss.”
There had been a war of words between Jogi and his state-level party colleagues over a host of issues ever since Baghel took charge as CPCC chief after 2013 Assembly polls.
State Congress in January this year expelled Jogi’s son and Marwahi MLA Amit for six years over his alleged role in fixing the 2014 by-election to Antagarh Assembly seat, which was won by BJP.
Besides, it had recommended the Congress high command to terminate party membership of Jogi over the same issue.
Jogi’s wife and Congress MLA from Kota Renu Jogi and two other party legislators – Rajendra Kumar Rai (Gundardehi) and Siyaram Kaushik (Bilha) – attended today’s meeting.
Former legislators Vidhan Mishra and Dharamjeet Singh were among the Congress leaders present on the occasion.