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Chhattisgarh Election 2018

Took just few hours to forge alliance with Mayawati, will project her as PM candidate: Ajit Jogi

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Mayawati

Raipur | It is an alliance that took just a few hours of discussion and the former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi wants it to continue till the 2019 general elections by projecting his ally and BSP supremo Mayawati as the prime ministerial candidate.

“Mayawatiji deserves to be the country’s prime minister. She is appropriate for the post and she has the potential,” Jogi said.

Describing the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief as a natural leader, the bureaucrat-turned-politician told PTI in an interview, “There are various things that work in her favour. She is a woman, a Dalit and also has an experience of serving as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh four times.”

Jogi, 72, is the chief ministerial candidate of the alliance. He had earlier served as Chhattisgarh’s first chief minister as a Congress leader between 2000 and 2003 after the tribal-dominated state was carved out of Madhya Pradesh.

However, the Congress could not return to power after Jogi’s tenure ended and the BJP leader Raman Singh has served as its chief minister for nearly 15 years since then. One reason many cite for Congress’ failure to come back to power in the state is infighting among various state leaders. Jogi left the Congress in 2016.

While Chhattisgarh has always seen a two-way fight between the arch rivals BJP and Congress, Jogi-Mayawati alliance has become a keenly-watched third force this time. Even Chief Minister Singh, a BJP stalwart in the state where elections for 90 assembly seats would be held in two phases on November 12 and November 20, has acknowledged that Jogi would impact the Bharatiya Janata Party as well as the Congress.

The BSP has one MLA in the outgoing assembly, while its vote share fell to 4.27 per cent in 2013. However, combining of forces between Jogi and Mayawati is being seen as having a multiplier effect, especially in terms of caste equations.

Out of 90 total seats, 29 are reserved for tribals and 10 for Scheduled Castes. In the non-reserved seats, the population of SCs is more than 10 per cent in 40 assemblies. Besides, the other backward classes constitute about 48 per cent of the state’s population.

While Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party is known to attract Dalit voters, Jogi himself is said to have a stronghold among voters from his caste base of Mahars and Satnamis.

Pitching Mayawati’s name for the prime minister, Jogi said the BSP supremo deserves the country’s top post and she is an appropriate candidate for it.

“The alliance between these two parties is a natural alliance and it will last beyond 2019 general elections,” Jogi said.

When asked how the alliance was formed between the two parties, Jogi said it took just a few hours to forge the partnership as both parties are almost on the same page ideologically.

“I met Mayawatiji and we discussed for few hours and then decided to contest the election together for the state assembly and I will be the chief ministerial candidate,” Jogi said.

Talking about the two-phase polls, Jogi said the real contest would be between the JCC-BSP alliance and the ruling BJP, while he termed the Congress a “spent force”.

The Congress has no organisation, no workers in the state and above all it is without any leader, he said.

Jogi’s daughter-in-law Richa Jogi is contesting on BSP ticket from Akaltara constituency in Janjgir-Champa district.

Till recently, the four-member Jogi family was representing three different political parties.

While Jogi and his son are in the JCC, Jogi’s wife -– Renu Jogi — was with the Congress before being denied ticket and has now switched sides to his husband’s party.

Many poll pundits feel Jogi could also play the role of a kingmaker in Chhattisgarh in case of a hung verdict, while his alignment with Mayawati could give him a noticeable say for the Lok Sabha elections next year, especially during of alignment of non-BJP forces to take on the saffron party.

Jogi is known to have some influence in Madhya Pradesh as well, besides Chhattisgarh and the two states together account for 40 Lok Sabha seats, including 15 reserved for SC/ST candidates.

In UP, where Mayawati is a strong force, there are total 80 Lok Sabha seats, including 17 reserved for SC.

Mayawati’s party also has some presence in several other states and union territories, including Delhi, Haryana, Telangana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Bihar, besides Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

The 62-year Dalit leader served as chief minister for three brief periods, first being in 1995, before she had a full five-year tenure during 2007-2012. However, her last tenure was also marked with allegations of corruption.

Besides, she has had three terms each in Lok Sabha and in Rajya Sabha.

In the last Lok Sabha polls in 2014, the BSP did not get a single seat but it was the third largest party in terms of vote share (over 4 per cent with nearly 2.3 crore voters). The party candidates came second on as many as 34 seats, while its vote share in Uttar Pradesh was nearly 20 per cent.

The BSP had won 21 Lok Sabha seats in 2009 elections. In the Uttar Pradesh assembly, the BSP had got 206 out of 403 assembly seats in 2007, but the tally took a deep plunge to 80 in 2012 and even deeper to just 19 in the 2017 state elections.

Jogi’s alliance with Mayawati is seen as significant as the Dalit leader from Uttar Pradesh was also being wooed by the Congress and other opposition parties for a broader non-BJP alliance ahead of the 2019 general elections to give a united fight to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Chhattisgarh Election 2018

Modi arrogant, country can’t be run by a single person: Rahul

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Rahul Gandhi

Bhilai | Congress president Rahul Gandhi Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being arrogant, adding the latter “doesn’t understand that India has progressed due to the sweat and blood of the common man”.

Addressing a campaign rally here for the second phase of Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Gandhi said the country can’t be run by a single person or a party. “The common citizens have given their sweat and blood for development of the country. The prime minister doesn’t seem to understand this because he is arrogant,” he told the gathering.

“When Modi spoke from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi that before he became the prime minister in 2014, the elephant (India) was sleeping, he was insulting people of the country,” Gandhi said.

“By making such comments, he has insulted you, the workers of Bhilai steel plant who have worked here since 1955,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi spoke of “two Indias coexisting”, saying “One India is of the rich: Anil Ambani, Mehul Choksi, Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya and another India is of common people like you and me – farmers and labourers. We don’t want this. We have one ‘tiranga’ (national tricolour) and the country should also be one,” he said.

“If the rich are given benefits, the common people should also get the same. If you don’t want to waive loans of farmers, you should not do so for the rich as well. For a handful of rich whose NPAs total Rs 12 lakh crore, Rs 3.5 lakh crore have been waived off,” he said.

Targeting Modi, Gandhi asked the audience to question him when he visits them next.

“On my behalf, ask Modiji why doesn’t he speak of the promises he made in 2014 about depositing Rs 15 lakh in your bank accounts, about giving employment to two crore people, fair price for farmers produce and about being the ‘chowkidar’ of the country,” he said.

Modi did ‘chowkidari’ of Anil Ambani and made crores of honest ordinary citizens stand in queues outside banks, he said.

“Rs 30,000 crore was given to Ambani in the Rafale deal. This is the truth of the ‘chowkidar”, Gandhi said.

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Chhattisgarh Election 2018

Rafale probe will throw up names of Modi, Ambani: Rahul Gandhi

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Rahul Gandhi

Kabirdham/Korba | A probe into the procurement of Rafale fighter jets from France would throw up names of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday.

Addressing a campaign rally here for the second phase of Assembly polls, Gandhi also claimed the NDA government bought the planes at Rs 1,600 crore a piece as against the Rs 526 crore for each aircraft fixed by the Congress-led UPA government. Gandhi’s comments came on a day the Supreme Court said a discussion on the pricing of the Rafale jets can only take place if the facts of the deal are allowed to come into the public domain.

The apex court, which began its hearing on pleas seeking a court-monitored probe into the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, also said it would like to hear from an Air Force officer and not an official of the Defence Ministry. “The CBI director (Alok Verma) initiated a probe in the Rafale deal. The prime minister removed him at 12 in the night. I am telling you, the day a probe will begin in Rafale deal, two names will surface: Anil Ambani and Narendra Modi,” Gandhi told the gathering.

On former French president Francois Hollande’s comments in French media that the Indian government had proposed Reliance Defence as partner for Dassault Aviation in the deal and that France did not have a choice, Gandhi said Modi named Ambani’s company as Dassault’s partner in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal.

The Modi government chose Ambani’s “inexperienced” company over the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which has a long experience in aerospace and defence sector, Gandhi said. There was no reaction from the government or the BJP on the fresh charges, though they have previously rejected all allegations over the Rafale deal.

On demonetisation, Gandhi said the poor suffered due to the move and that no billionaire or “thieves with black money” had to queue up outside banks to exchange notes after the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes were declared invalid by Modi on November 8, 2016. Gandhi termed demonetisation as the “biggest scam” of the country.

“There has been no bigger scam than this (note ban). The truth will come out. It will be proved that Modi made the move to snatch money from the poor and put it in the pockets of thieves like Nirav Modi, Anil Ambani and Mehul Choksi,” he said.

Terming the prime minister as corrupt, Gandhi accused him of not taking action against Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh’s son Abhishek, whose name he said figured in the Panama Papers.

Invoking his family ties with the state, the Congress chief said the relationship was of love and not politics. “We have old ties with you. Jawaharlal Nehruji, Indiraji, Rajivji, Soniaji had family ties with Chhattisgarh. It was a relationship of love and not politics,” he said. He accused the BJP-led state government of forcibly acquiring lands of farmers, adding the Congress, if elected to power, would not snatch land from peasants.

The Congress president also promised to install a “people’s government” in Chhattisgarh and accused the ruling BJP of destroying the state in its 15-year rule. The state was among the richest in the country in terms of water, forest, mines and minerals but its people have remained poor due to the policies of the BJP government, he said.

Lands of locals in the tribal-dominated state were taken away to set up industries, he said. But when the units were not set up, the lands were not returned, he added. Polling for the second phase in 72 seats, out of the total 90-member Assembly, will take place on November 20 and the counting of votes will be held on December 11.

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Chhattisgarh Election 2018

Six security personnel injured in IED blast in Chhattisgarh

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Chhattisgarh

Raipur | Five security personnel, including four BSF jawans, and a civilian were injured when Naxals blew up a truck with an IED in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district on Wednesday, a senior police official said.

The incident took place around 9 am at Bijapur Ghati, located around 7 km from Bijapur town, Deputy Inspector General (anti-Naxal operations), Sundarraj P told PTI. “Four Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, belonging to 414th battalion, a District Reserve Guard (DRG) jawan, and a civilian, who was driving the vehicle, received injuries in the improvised explosive device (IED) blast,” he said.

Reinforcement was rushed to the spot and the injured persons were shifted to a local hospital, he said, adding that a search operation was underway in the region. Bijapur is located around 450 km from the state capital Raipur.

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