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The Rediff Interview/Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi

October 10, 2003

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi is unfazed by the chargesheet filed against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly forging government documents.

Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government for embarking on a 'vengeance spree' to get even with political opponents, he says he is not surprised by the support shown by the Congress leadership in his present crisis.

In an interview to Chief Correspondent Tara Shankar Sahay, Jogi discusses his party's prospects in the December 1 assembly election, the controversy relating to the alleged forgery and the BJP.

How do you perceive the CBI chargesheet against you?

Is there anything else to say? My and my party's views are wellknown. The BJP-led (central) government is hell-bent on extracting vengeance against its political opponents by hook or crook.

We have earlier said it (the BJP) will go to any extent to hide its skeletons in the cupboard while simultaneously victimising its political adversaries. That has come true. The CBI is being misused by it to fulfil its unholy aims and objectives.

What is your strategy?

It is simple, we are exposing the BJP's sheer duplicity. That party hurls accusations against others who have worked tirelessly for the welfare of the people of Chhattisgarh.

Despite BJP propaganda, people made me the chief minister, clearly indicating their political preference. My work for the tribals, Dalits, depressed and the downtrodden ignited envy and animosity among the BJP leaders.

Those who are moving heaven and earth to hide their sins, whether it is the Tehelka scam, the coffin scam or aggravating communal tensions, have no business vilifying others. We are determined to overcome the BJP's evil designs. The people are with me.

Do you think the CBI chargesheet is no hurdle?

Since it is politically motivated, we will fight it both politically and legally. I have nothing to fear.

Were you relieved that your party high command stood by you?

Why should it be surprising? Our party chief Madam Sonia Gandhi has consistently exposed the BJP's omissions and commissions. Our leadership knows the BJP is unnerved about its poll prospects which is why it is becoming more and more desperate and resorting to any means in a bid to win the polls. It will be sorely disappointed.

Do you think that Nationalist Congress Party leader Vidya Charan Shukla poses an electoral challenge to you?

No, it is a direct fight between us and the BJP. There is no third challenger.

Media reports from Raipur say Shukla's NCP is making its presence felt in your state.

Fringe politicians addressing a handful (of meetings) hardly makes for political presence.

What do you say to Shukla's statement that Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh swung the pendulum in your favour to become chief minister by speaking to your party chief?

There is no dearth of allegations against me by political adversaries but it doesn't bother me. My party will win the polls and that will be my reply to my detractors.

What about media reports that there are various aspirants in your party for the chief ministership of Chhattisgarh?

The high command is fully behind me. That should answer your question.

What about reports in the media that the CBI chargesheet against you could trigger a chief ministerial change in Chhattisgarh?

I have no time for speculation. Surely, you must have taken cognizance that I was fully supported by my party.

Are you confident that the tribals will support you during the electtion?

Of course, they will vote for my party. I am one of them. The total success of the bandh called in protest against the CBI chargesheet against me made that clear.

Design: Uday Kuckian

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