Raipur: In an apparent battle for preserving the political legacy of former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, the Marwahi bypoll which went to polling on Tuesday has been reduced to bipolar fight between the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in the state.
The tribal-dominated seat where a bypoll was necessitated after Jogi’s death went to polls on Tuesday.
A Jogi family bastion, Marwahi had been a pocket borough since year 2000 when the tiny state was carved out of Madhya Pradesh and Jogi senior become the chief minister. However, after his demise in May, his son and the JCC president Amit Jogi is finding it difficult to keep the flock together and keep his home seat intact.
Congress has fielded Dr KK Dhruv, a physician who resigned from the government job, to contest this poll. The BJP has also roped in a physician, Dr Gambhir Singh.
Nominations of both JCC chief Amit Jogi and his wife Richa were rejected in scrutiny over legal issues in their caste certificate, prompting JCC chief and his family to accuse the Bhupesh Baghel government of depriving Jogis a chance to contest this poll.
Amit Jogi, who had earlier said he would remain impartial in the bypoll by not supporting or opposing anyone, last Friday announced his support for the BJP. Sources claimed that the move was constrained as two out of four JCC MLAs were willing to support the Congress.
The two rebels, Devvrat Singh and Pramod Sharma, did announce their support to the Congress on Sunday, accusing their party JCC of not taking them into confidence before extending support to the BJP.
The by-election is a do or die situation for the Jogis who wish to remain politically relevant in Chhattisgarh politics, and it is now also a prestige issue for Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel who wishes to get Jogis pushed to oblivion.
Baghel has been a known detractor of Jogis since the days of Ajit Jogi and sources claim it was he who foiled Amit Jogi’s recent efforts to merge JCC with the Congress.
On the other hand, BJP is trying to cash in on the fighting between the Congress and JCC to open its account in Chhattisgarh post the drubbing it received at the hands of Bhupesh Baghel led Congress party in 2018 assembly polls.
Post 2018, the BJP has failed to win any bypoll in Chhattisgarh and a win for Congress at Marwahi could weaken their position in the state further. Both the bypolls at Dantewada and Chitrakote were won by Congress in CG last year.
Meanwhile, for Baghel, a victory at Marwahi will help quell internal dissent from senior leaders like TS Singh Deo and will lead to his stature grow in the party significantly.
However, as the Jogis are out of the contest this time and are making it a fight to save late Ajit Jogi’s pride and legacy in Marwahi. Amit Jogi has already announced that the JCC is going to this bypoll with the BJP to keep the honour of late He, in fact, has accused the ruling Congress of trying to end his father’s political legacy in Marwahi.
Both Ajit Jogi and his son Amit were expelled from the Congress for anti-party activities in 2016.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of campaigning in Bihar, Baghel said that Congress will win both Marwahi and Madhya Pradesh.
On Tuesday morning, the polling took place at a steady pace in Marwahi with Covid-19 safety guidelines in place.
Former CM Dr Raman Singh, who camped in Marwahi for two days, had recently said, “We are aiming to get justice for late Ajit Jogi. We (BJP and JCC) might be different parties but our hearts are not apart. JCC is a party which fights for the rights of people of Chhattisgarh.”