Former Chhattisgarh CM's son expelled from Congress
Chhattisgarh Congress on Wednesday expelled former chief minister Ajit Jogi's son Amit for six years for his alleged involvement in the fixing of a by-poll and facilitating the victory of BJP. The state Congress recommended to the Congress high command that Ajit Jogi too should also be expelled. Over 100 of Ajit Jogi's loyalists from the Chhattisgarh Congress have quit in protest.
A month before the bypolls for the Antagarh assembly seat (Chhattisgarh), Congress candidate Manturam Pawar withdrew his candidature, in August 2014. Following Pawar's withdrawal, BJP candidate Bhojraj Nag emerged victorious in the by-election held on 13 September 2014.
A year after the Chattisgarh assembly by-polls, tapes of conversations between key political players of that time have emerged. The tapes suggest that financial inducements could have been offered to Congress candidate Manturam Pawar, to make him withdraw from the by-poll. The conversations involved former Chhattisgarh CM Ajit Jogi, his son Amit Jogi, his "associates", Puneet Gupta (CM Raman Singh's son-in-law) and Manturam Pawar.
The tape conversations published by The Indian Express, reveal Amit and Ajit Jogi talking to Puneet Gupta in the run up to the by-election allegedly to make Manturam Pawar withdraw from the contest. They also mention some "arrangements for paying at least seven if not 10" (crore rupees). Pawar who went on to withdraw his candidature had joined the BJP in March 2015.
Ajit Jogi alleged that the tapes were doctored and called the newspaper report "false and fabricated". He said that he would file a defamation case against the reporter and the newspaper for making "baseless allegations".
Distancing itself from the controversy, BJP called it an internal fight in Congress. BJP spokesperson Sanjay Shrivastav said, "As far as the BJP is concerned, Antagad by-election withdrawal by the Congress candidate was a result of internal fight between the Congress leaders and the BJP had nothing to do with it." Manturam Pawar also denied that it was his voice in the purported recordings.
Responding to the by-poll fixing charge, CM Raman Singh said that it was an internal issue of Congress party and that the BJP has no role to play in it. Singh also said, "the Congress candidate who withdrew has clarified that he did so because he was unhappy with the party." He added that his son-in-law Puneet Gupta had nothing to do with politics.
Chhattisgarh state Congress demanded CM Raman Singh's resignation over an allegation that money was offered to a Congress candidate to get him to withdraw from an assembly by-election. Congress also demanded a SIT probe into the matter. Bhupesh Baghel, the state Congress chief, alleged that Raman Singh was using corrupt means to win power and asked the Governor to dismiss the government.