Home > News > Elections 2004 > Report
Cong hopes sympathy wave will help Jogi win
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi |
April 13, 2004 13:32 IST
Last Updated: April 13, 2004 18:18 IST
Congress leaders in Delhi believe that Ajit Jogi's tragic accident on Sunday may well turn out to be a blessing in disguise as it may help him win the Mahasamund parliamentary seat riding a sympathy wave.
It would indeed be a major achievement considering that his rival, Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Vidya Charan Shukla, has won the seat seven times.
In his earlier avatar as chief of the state unit of the Nationalist Congress Party, Shukla is believed to be mainly responsible for the Congress losing power in the state. Jogi is contesting against him to avenge that loss.
Akabar Bhai, former legislator from the Birendranagar assembly segment, pointed out that Jogi getting the party ticket for Mahasamund itself showed the regard that the high command had for him despite the cash-for-MLAs scandal.
However, the day after the former Chhattisgarh chief minister met with a road accident near Raipur, his election campaign in the constituency virtually came to a standstill. While he is recuperating in Mumbai after an operation, his supporters and campaign managers are groping in the dark though only a few days remain for polling.
Congress sources told rediff.com that party chief Sonia Gandhi is anxiously monitoring Jogi's health.
"Everybody is praying for his speedy recovery. It is a most unfortunate thing to happen to anybody and he is one of our most prominent campaigners," Congress veteran and party treasurer Motilal Vora told rediff.com. Now that he has been temporarily incapacitated, the party would come to his aid.
Vora has been a staunch critic of Jogi and a contender for supremacy among the party leaders in the state.
However, there is considerable relief in party circles that Jogi survived despite the serious nature of the accident. His supporters are busy conducting havans and pujas for his well-being.
At Baghbahara block, 30 km from Mahasamund, some people were almost in tears. "Everything was so smooth for Jogiji. The accident is a big setback to us," said a dispirited Ramdayal.
Jogi was scheduled to visit the area in the coming days but now the poll graffiti will have to carry the burden of his non-appearance.
Tamradhwaj Sahu, former party legislator from the Dhamdha assembly segment, is confident that the mishap would not curb the enthusiasm of Jogi's supporters. "Every Congressman in Chhattisgarh has his job cut out now: strive to ensure his (Jogi's) victory in Mahasamund," he said.
Mahasamund district Congress chief and Jogi's campaign manager Agni Chandrakar maintains that his loyalists still have the energy to campaign for their leader but admitted that the lack of big leaders is working against them.
The deserted Congress Bhavan in Mahasamund speaks a lot about the impact of the accident on the party workers. Only a handful were present and none had any clue about the schedule of the other key campaigners still in the field.
Supporters are now planning to prepare audio tapes of his speeches and distribute it in the rural areas in the hope of invoking a sympathy wave.
"The sympathy factor is definitely there. It is a natural reaction to a calamity like this," said Akabar Bhai.
The rival Bharatiya Janata Party is also aware of this factor and is careful not to further stoke the sympathy wave. "We are concerned about Jogi's health but there will be no relaxation in the campaign," says Shukla.
In the changed circumstances, the BJP would avoid targetting Jogi at public meetings. "We do not want to give any undue advantage to the opposition at this point when the election is so close and we have the upper hand," Chief Minister Raman Singh said.
With inputs from Ira Saxena in Raipur