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How Modi inspired the Congress in Chhattisgarh

Anand Mishra in Jogisar (Chhattisgarh) | November 15, 2008 20:23 IST

After the Modi mask in Gujarat, it is now Jogi mask in the poll-bound tribal state of Chhattisgarh. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's [Images] election strategies appear to have caught the fancy of political parties here.

Children are seen wearing masks of former chief minister Ajit Jogi in his paternal village Jogisar. The party has distributed large number of Jogi masks in all the booths of Marwahi constituency, from where the veteran party leader contests the election in the second phase on November 20.

The full face covering masks made on a thick and glossy paper pictures a smiling and confident Jogi.

53 pc turnout in first phase of Chhattisgarh polls

62-year-old Jogi suffered serious spinal injuries in an accident in 2004, when his vehicle hit a tree in Mahasamund constituency during a campaign tour. The Congress leader, who moves on a wheel-chair, has been campaigning in Bastar, Bilaspur, Durg and Mahasamund.

A Congress supporter in Jogisar, Dilip Tiwari says, "The masks are for all villagers. There are ten booths in the village. Ten sacks of masks have arrived on Friday. Only our party is using the mask strategy here".

Interestingly, after becoming a Member of Legislative Assembly from Marwahi in the 2003 assembly polls, Jogi had resigned within a year after being elected as a Member of Parliament from Mahasumund. Marwahi has remained unrepresented for the last four years.

Chhattisgarh: Violence marks first phase of polling

"We have to move in and around the villages wearing the mask and campaign for the party leader. This way small children will also be doing value addition to our campaign," says Ashok Bhagat.

This is also the first time that SMS has been used for political campaigning.

"The state requires a change. We have to take it on the path of development and prosperity. Help us in making this change. Vote for Congress," says a text message sent to people in Jogi's name.

Chhattisgarh polls: Bastar holds the key

Besides the state's first chief minister, in an attempt to strike a personal chord with the masses, has distributed leaflets in the vernacular Chhattisgarhi in his constituency.

The leaflet carries his and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's [Images] photographs in which Jogi, while lambasting the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state, demands a mandate from the people for Congress.

Unlike other political parties, Jogi, himself a former bureaucrat, has assigned a former administrative officer the responsibility for the party office work at Roheli, to add a professional touch to his poll strategy.

"Political workers tend to give an exaggerated picture of the party's position vis a vis the rivals, either with an intention of getting the pat of their leader or for simply hiding their lack of legwork. Hence a political person was required to keep an eye on the real situation," says a Jogi supporter.

Jogi is yet to address a single political meeting in his own constituency even as less than a week remains for polling and just three days for the campaigning in the second phase to end, but he has driven home his message loud and clear.

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