He has been accused of fielding rebels against senior leaders
With exit polls predicting a BJP win in the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections, senior pradesh Congress leaders, on condition of anonymity, said the former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi had put up strong rebel candidates in at least half a dozen constituencies in a bid to ensure their defeat. And if the Congress loses the election for the third time in a row and the candidates fielded by Mr. Jogi score enough to outvote the official nominees, the leaders will take up the issue with the high command, sources told The Hindu.
But Mr. Jogi refused to comment on the brewing controversy, while PCC chief Charan Das Mahant said in-fighting was not an issue this time and that the Congress would win handsomely.
The anti-Jogi section is furious with the former Chief Minister for allegedly backing his loyalists against Leader of the Opposition Rabindra Chaubey, the former ministers Satyanarayan Sharma and Dhanendra Sahu, State coordinator Bhupesh Baghel, and SC (Satnami) leader Rudra Guru. The sources said the party had received complaints from several other candidates also.
A top State-level leader said Mr Jogi’s aim was to take the support of independents and other smaller parties in case the Congress got close to the halfway mark. For, if a majority of his loyalists did not win, it would be difficult for Mr Jogi to prop up his candidate for the top job, the leader said.
But Mr Jogi won’t comment on the allegations. “We were united and confident of winning this time,” he told The Hindu on the phone from New Delhi.
A top aide said Mr. Jogi had tried his best to stop some of his loyalists from contesting but could not as they were disappointed on being denied ticket.
The senior leaders disagree. Five candidates from the Satnami community were put up in Mr. Chaubey’s constituency to sabotage his chances of winning. “The main rebel, Kishanlal Kurre, was using helicopter and dispensing money like water … the entire Chhattisgarh knows who Mr. Kurre is attached to,” said a senior leader, affirming that he would raise the issue on a national party forum.
The PCC chief has been updated on the growing hostility among his party colleagues. While refusing to accept that the complains against Jogi-planted rebels are a process of preparing a defence in case of a Congress defeat, Mr Mahant said the allegations would be put to rest after Sunday. “Even after minor in-fighting, we will get more than 50 seats [out of 90] and all nitpicking will stop,” he told The Hindu.