'Raman Singh will certainly be defeated by the alliance we have created,' Ajit Jogi, Chhattisgarh's first chief minister and one of Indian politics's great survivors, tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih.
"Every election is the first election. This election will also be well contested," says Ajit Jogi, Chhattisgarh's first chief minister, over the phone from Raipur on Sunday, after returning from the Sunday church service.
On Diwali, Jogi, who has overcome tremendous physical odds since he lost both his legs in a car crash during the 2004 Lok Sabha campaign, had visited a temple and a mosque in Raipur.
As Chhattisgarh goes to the polls, his new party, the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress, is fighting its first election, emerging as a third force in a state that has traditionally seen a straight Bharatiya Janata Party-Congress contest.
Jogi -- a former bureaucrat turned Congress politician, who left the Congress to form the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress last year -- is one of Indian politics's great suvivors and has repeatedly beaten the odds to remain politically relevant.
According to three-time BJP Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh, Jogi's alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Communist Party of India could impact 30 of Chhattisgarh's 90 assembly seats.
If the alliance wins 5 to 8 seats, Jogi is expected to play a crucial role in the post-poll arithmetic. But he feels his alliance will win a majority on its own to form a government.
"I will be the king, not the kingmaker," asserts Jogi launching a blistering attack on the Raman Singh government.
"People are totally fed up of the Raman Singh government," he says. "There is corruption, unemployment and they have not fulfilled the promises of the last elections."
"Raman Singh will be defeated. He will certainly be defeated by the alliance we have created," says Jogi who struck a deal with BSP leader Mayawati right under the Congress's nose, a political coup for him.
"The Congress had been talking to her. She thought she could transfer her votes to Congress, but wasn't sure if the Congress votes would come to her. In my case," he explains, "I can transfer my votes to her and vice versa."
"Mayawatiji has been chief minister of India's largest state, has the support of Dalits and would be the right choice as leader of a non-Congress, non-BJP alliance," he says indicating what could lie ahead in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
His daughter-in-law Richa Jogi will contest the election on a BSP ticket. Jogi himself is contesting from Marwahi.
After a long association with the Congress that started with Rajiv Gandhi, Jogi's wife Dr Renu Jogi, a Congress MLA, had remained with the Congress till last week.
She left the party when the Congress denied a ticket to recontest her Kota seat. Dr Jogi is now a candidate from her husband's party from the same seat.
"I am very happy she is contesting from my party," says Ajit Jogi.
Jogi had said he would not personally attack the Gandhi family during his campaign and said his relations with the Gandhis continue to remain good.
Asked if Rahul Gandhi was responsible for his ouster from the Congress, he says, "Not at all."
"I wanted to form a regional party because national parties have not been able to deliver in the state. They have to take permission from Delhi for everything."