2 MLAs of Jogi's party defy leadership, back Cong in bypoll

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Raipur, Nov 2 (PTI) Two MLAs of the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J), founded by late Ajit Jogi, have defied the party's decision to support the BJP's nominee in the Marwahi bypoll scheduled on Tuesday.

JCC(J) legislators Devwrat Singh and Pramod Sharma on Sunday criticised party president Amit Jogis decision to back the BJP, and said they will support the Congresss nominee in the bypoll.

By-election to Marwahi seat in Gaurela-Pendra-Marwahi district was necessitated due to the demise of sitting MLA Ajit Jogi in May this year.

After being left out of the Marwahi bypoll over his caste issue, Amit Jogi, the son of Ajit Jogi, lent support to BJP candidate Dr Gambheer Singh and appealed to people of the constituency to teach a lesson to the Congress for allegedly 'insulting' his father.

However, MLAs Devwrat Singh and Pramod Sharma have defied the decision of their party, which currently has four MLAs in the 90-member Assembly.

Talking to PTI on Monday, Devwrat Singh said, 'We both feel that after the demise of Jogi ji, we don't find any reason why we should remain in the party.' 'The party does not have any future or political prospects for us and other workers, and people are now leaving the party,' he claimed.

'After the death of Jogi ji, I dont think there is a future for a third party in the state. For our own political future, we have to go to either the BJP or the Congress.

'Since we were in the Congress for many years and follow that ideology, we will join that party sooner or later,' the rebel MLA said.

He termed Amit Jogi's decision to back the BJP in the Marwahi bypoll as 'ridiculous'.

Ajit Jogi had formed a core committee of the party and after his death, no meeting of the panel was held, he said.

'Any such decision should come from the core committee. He (Amit) unanimously took the decision to support the BJP and therefore, we are against it,' the rebel MLA said.

He also claimed that Ajit Jogi had during his lifetime opposed the BJP.

On Sunday, the two MLAs in a joint press conference in Gaurela said, 'When Ajit Jogi was in coma (before his death), his family had made a request to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi that Jogi ji wanted to come back to the party fold.' 'But, due to some technical reasons it could not materialise. Even Renu Jogi ji (Ajit Jogi's wife) intends to join the Congress,' Devwrat Singh claimed.

However, countering his claim, Renu Jogi, who is an MLA from Kota seat in Bilaspur district, in a statement on Monday said she can never think of joining the Congress.

'Since the demise of my husband, the Congress has left no table unturned to insult him. During the recent bypoll campaign also, the Congress continued to insult him, she alleged.

After he left his government job, Ajit Jogi served the Congress for 32 years with complete dedication. Unfortunately, Congress leaders left no opportunity to insult him and his family, she alleged.

On the support extended by the two JCC(J) MLAs to the Congress, she alleged that they are now insulting Ajit Jogi in their greed for power.

JCC(J) legislature party leader Dharamjeet Singh said these two MLAs are free to leave the party if they want and join the Congress.

'Perhaps, Ajit Jogi ji himself had a doubt over the loyalty of these two MLAs, therefore they were not accommodated in the party's core committee,' he said.

Ajit Jogi was the first CM of Chhattisgarh after it was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000.

He parted ways with the Congress in 2016 after he and his son got embroiled into a controversy over the alleged fixing of the bypoll to Antagarh seat in Kanker in 2014.

Ajit Jogi subsequently formed his own outfit JCC(J).

The 2018 Assembly polls gave a massive mandate to the Congress, bringing it to power in the state.

During the Assembly elections, the JCC(J) and Mayawati's BSP had entered into an alliance and won seven seats, including five by JCC(J) candidates.

Jogi had won from his traditional Marwahi seat.

His death on May 29 this year necessitated the bypoll in Marwahi. PTI TKP GK GK