If demands unreasonable, Cong may not go for alliance

T Saran Singh Deo

Chhattisgarh has been a photo-finish state for the last three Assembly elections. The Congress lost the 2013 elections by polling 0.75% fewer votes than the BJP. Senior Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in the Chhattisgarh Assembly Tribhuvaneshwar Saran Singh Deo tells DH on how the party plans to bridge the gap. Here are the edited excerpts:
 

You were to declare candidates early, when is it expected?

Congress president had indicated a date – August 15. He has given us some more time to complete the process. We have set out a three-tier process for candidate selection by involving block-level, district-level workers. It should be over by September.

What about alliances? Have you identified your potential partners?

We are open to alliances with anybody but for Ajit Jogi. We are not touching Jogi. That is the main curiosity many people have. Is he coming back? We cannot work with him anymore for many reasons. He has not been disciplined – so to say – within the party. It has always been he and he alone. It is my way or the highway.

Any timelines for finalising alliance?

There are no timelines. I see it (alliances) less difficult for the 2019 elections. For the state elections, it might be a bit difficult if parties insist on a particular number. If the possible alliance partners want a certain number of seats which we find unreasonable, then it will not go through.

What are the issues with Jogi?

There were many issues that had come up. For example, the Maoist attack in 2013 that wiped off the Congress leadership. It was a targeted attack. The message went that he (Jogi) was responsible from within the party. He had been working as an internal saboteur for the BJP. Chief Minister Raman Singh was making full use of Jogi's presence in the Congress – he was the Trojan Horse.

How will the Jogi factor play out, will he affect Congress' prospects?

In some Assembly seats, he may pose a three-cornered contest. The party has to buck up in a seat like Lije, where Jogi's son may contest.

Cong does not have a face in Chhatisgarh. Is it a handicap?

People want change and when you talk about the Congress, people are aware that these are the leaders of the Congress party in Chhatisgarh. They know amongst them that these are senior Congress leaders and I think they are fairly comfortable with that.

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If demands unreasonable, Cong may not go for alliance

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