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BJP rallies behind Judeo

A correspondent, Raipur | November 18, 2003 08:03 IST

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee might have accepted Union minister of state for environment and forests Dilip Singh Judeo's resignation, but the Bharatiya Janata Party has rallied behind him.

Judeo, who was unofficially being projected as the BJP's chief ministerial candidate in Chhattisgarh, on Monday quit after allegations of accepting bribe from a businessman.

On Sunday, when the scandal broke out, Judeo addressed a press conference in Raipur. That day, mood in the local BJP camp was that of uncertainty. The PM was out of the country and nobody was sure how he would tackle the issue. If Judeo was dropped and sidelined, as Bangaru Laxman was after the Tehelka scandal, it would have hit the BJP hard in the Chhattisgarh elections. Taking no action would have been suicidal. Perhaps these calculations played a big part in the BJP choosing the middle path. Judeo resigned from the Union Cabinet but is being fully supported by the party.

On Monday afternoon he held another press conference in Raipur and this time local BJP bigwigs were present to express their solidarity with Judeo.

Union Agriculture Minister Rajnath Singh took charge of the press conference and redirected the charges of corruption against the ruling Congress and its Chief Minister Ajit Jogi. He said Judeo has resigned and now Congress president Sonia Gandhi should also ask Jogi to quit, as he had been implicated in many corruption cases. He made it clear that BJP would now opt for a more aggressive approach against Jogi.

Apart from Singh, sharing the dais with Judeo were Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Dr Raman Singh and Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Ramesh Bais, both hailing from Chhattisgarh.

As for Judeo's next move, he told a local journalist that now he would wear white clothes, drive in a white jeep and go to all those temples Jogi had visited and clean them with milk.

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