Jogi denies role in tape controversy

NEW DELHI DEC. 7. The beleaguered former Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Ajit Jogi, who was suspended from the Congress after the tape controversy erupted on Saturday, today denied his role in it and appeared before a panel of senior party leaders to state his case. Mr. Jogi, who was not allowed to attend the meeting of the Congress Working Committee, presented himself before the CWC members, Pranab Mukherjee, Ahmed Patel, Manmohan Singh and Vilasrao Deshmukh, later this evening.

The AICC clarified that Mr. Jogi was suspended from the party for having issued a letter of support without due authorisation from the central leadership. The party chief spokesperson, S. Jaipal Reddy, said the party would not like to pronounce on the veracity of the tapes but asserted that law ``must apply squarely whether it was the video tape of Mr. Judev or the audio tape of Mr Jogi.''

Having arrived here this morning, Mr. Jogi parked himself in Chhattisgarh Bhawan waiting for a call. While confirming that he had issued the letter, Mr. Jogi said he had done so on the insistence of the claimants and as his attempts to contact the high command on the subject could not succeed. It is understood that Mr. Jogi told the panel this evening that he had no role in the tape controversy.

Left demands probe

Meanwhile, the Left parties today condemned the reported attempt by Mr. Jogi to bribe BJP legislators to defect, and demanded an investigation and prosecution, if prima facie evidence existed. The CPI(M) questioned the BJP leadership for having ``gleefully exposed this corrupt practice of a Congress leader'' but refusing to take action against its leader and former Union Minister, Dilip Singh Judev. ``Here is a man who in similar circumstances was caught on camera taking money while being a public servant. The BJP not only defends him, but used him in the election campaign,'' the party politburo said in a statement.

It said that ironically, the indictment of Mr. Jogi was done by the Union Law Minister, Arun Jaitley, who defended Mr. Judev. ``Obviously the law for him is one-sided,'' the party said demanding that a case be lodged against Mr. Judev and he be prosecuted. The party charged that the CBI inquiry was ``just a cover to obfuscate the matter. There can be no double standard on taking action against the corrupt.''

Both the BJP and the Congress were answerable to the people as to why they harboured and promoted persons who had no qualms about misusing their official position and were ``amoral about their corruption.''

Echoing similar views, the CPI said it was strange that while the BJP defended Mr. Judev, it was attacking Mr. Jogi on the issue of corruption.

The party national secretary, D. Raja, said the BJP was adopting double standard and criticised the Union Law Minister leading the charge against the outgoing Chief Minister.

The Janata Party president, Subramanian Swamy, demanded that the CBI immediately register an FIR against the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, and Mr. Jogi and probe the alleged offences, said to have been committed by them on the information provided by Mr. Jaitley. In a statement, he said that in case the CBI did not do so by December 15, he would file a private complaint and seek the High Court direction to the CBI.

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