NEW DELHI: Raising a banner of revolt, senior Congress leader and former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi today threatened to form a new party and attacked his parent party as "B team" of BJP there, drawing sharp reaction from the AICC.
Jogi's rebellion from Congress came almost six months after the party expelled his son Amit Jogi over alleged "fixing" of a 2014 assembly bypoll to ensure ruling BJP's win in Chattisgarh. The AICC had then also contemplated taking action againt Ajit Jogi but no decision was taken after that.
Jogi's move to quit Congress and float a new party to challenge the Raman Singh government is also being linked to the speculation about expected elevation of Rahul Gandhi as the party President but he denied the suggestion saying "that has nothing to do with it."
The former Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh said that he is under tremendous pressure from his supporters. "Around 15,000 persons are talking to me personally or on phone. I am under tremendous pressure from my well-wishers, supporters and friends that if Chattisgarh has to be made free from Raman Singh, then I will have to take this big step.
"Otherwise, Raman Singh will win the state for fourth time as well as as there is no hope from Congress, which is playing as B Team of Raman Singh," Jogi said. His remarks are significant coming in wake of media speculation that he will break away from Congress and announce formation of a new party on June 6 in Marwahi.
Jogi said that his workers are pressurising him to get rid of this government and "unless I lead that is not possible. That is why on the 6th, I will go to Marwahi, which is my birth place. That day I have also called 5,000 of my core supporters from all over the state. I will ask them."
To a question about whether he talked to the leadership in this regard, Jogi said," enough of talks have taken place in last three years. Now there is compulsion."
Reacting sharply to the remarks, Jogis'old rival AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, recalled his role in the Antagarh assembly bypoll and referred to the audio tape regarding "fixing" of the election by Jogi.
"The manner in which Jogi has sold off the Congress candidate Manturam Pawar to the BJP is for all of you to see. It is beneficial for Congress if such persons leave the party, who are engaged in trading the declared candidate of Congress for some crores of rupees," Singh said. On January 6, cracking the whip over the issue of alleged fixing of Antagarh by-poll, the AICC had expelled Amit Jogi for six years and sought a report from the state unit on the entire matter.
The next day, Chhattisgarh unit of Congress had submitted a report to the AICC demanding "sacking" of Ajit Jogi. The action had come days after some audio tapes emerged suggesting financial inducements behind the party's candidate withdrawing from an assembly by-election in the state last year.
The purported conversations among key political players of that time also hinted at the role of Ajit Jogi and Amit. The PCC had asked for an explanation from Amit Jogi after this. In his communique, Amit had then denied the allegations.