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Congress embarrassed after audio tapes link Ajit Jogi to sabotaging party prospects in 2014 bypolls

Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh's son-in-law Puneet Gupta is alleged to have acted on behalf of the CM in brokering the pay off

Kavita Chowdhury  |  New Delhi 

Ajit Jogi

The Congress was left red-faced after alleged taped conversations dating back to the 2014 bypolls in Chattisgarh, have emerged alleging the role of former Congress chief minister Ajit Jogi in getting his own party's Congress candidate, to withdraw from the contest leading to a BJP win from the Antagarh (Reserved) seat. CM Raman Singh's son-in-law Puneet Gupta is alleged to have acted on behalf of the CM in brokering the pay off.

While the Congress has demanded an SIT probe pending which Chief Minister Raman Singh should step down, the state PCC has issued a show cause notice to Amit Jogi (who is alleged to be one of the voices on the tapes). As for senior leader Ajit Jogi "since he is a member of Congress Working Committee," (the highest decision making body of the Congress party) protocol requires that the disciplinary committee headed by AK Anthony deliberate on it. Jogi baiters within the party, have termed it a clear case of internal sabotage by the father- son duo.

AICC general secretary in charge of Chattisgarh, BK Hariprasad speaking to reporters in Delhi described as "shocking" the alleged involvement of Congressmen in the episode. Hariprasad recalled how the Congress had smelt foul play back in September 2014, when its party candidate Manturam Pawar withdrew from Antagarh bypolls at the last minute; it urged the Election Commission to countermand the election. The AICC general secretary BK Hariprasad said the tapes that had emerged now clearly prove that the party's allegations were correct.

AICC Communication department Chief Randeep Surjewala today said that Congress had then alleged that the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh made the Congress candidate withdraw his nomination by offering inducements. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi should immediately sack, dismiss or force Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh to resign.

The matter should be probed by a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court."

Ajit Jogi the first chief minister of Chattisgarh, has been in party cross hairs several times but got away lightly largely due to his proximity to 10, Janpath according to Congress insiders. When Congress lost during the 2013 Assembly polls and the vote difference between the BJP and Congress being marginal, fingers were pointed at the Jogis.

There was even a very public spat between Hariprasad and Jogi during the poll campaign. Congress leaders say Ajit Jogi has never reconciled to the fact that there could be any other Congress face in the state and has been working at cross purposes with PCC chief Bhupesh Baghel. One of the reasons for sabotaging the Antagarh bypolls, according to Congress insiders, was allegedly to cause loss of face for Baghel, who had assumed charge around that time.

In 2003, Jogi had been suspended from the party after being caught on tape allegedly attempting to 'buy off' BJP MLAs to save his government. Party veterans claim that being a loyalist of the first family has helped Jogi in the past to get away lightly.

"This time around, things are different, he has sabotaged his own party, he will have to be scalped," said a Congress veteran.

The fact that Jogi is member of the CWC, the highest decision making body of the Congress means that a procedure needs to be followed before taking any action. The state unit is expected to submit a report to the Disciplinary committee which will then forward its recommendations to the Congress President Sonia Gandhi for final action.

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First Published: Wed, December 30 2015. 20:46 IST
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