Tape row: Amit sacked, state Cong seeks father Ajit Jogi's ouster

Tape row: Amit sacked, state Cong seeks father Ajit Jogi's ouster
Chhattisgarh Congress today expelled party MLA Amit Jogi and passed a resolution seeking party High Command's nod for termination of the membership of his father and state's former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi over the Antagarh assembly bypoll audio tape row.

"Amit Jogi, Congress MLA from Marwahi constituency has been expelled from the primary membership of the party for six years. Besides, a resolution has been passed by the state party unit to terminate Ajit Jogi from the party," state Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel told reporters after a meeting of the Pradesh Congress Committee, which also adopted a resolution "condemning" the tape controversy.

The audio tape released by an English daily contained several phone conversations purportedly between Ajit Jogi, his son Amit and Chief Minister Raman Singh’s son-in-law Puneet Gupta, Congress candidate Manturam Pawar and former Jogi loyalists Firoz Siddiqui and Ameen Memon to "fix" the Antagarh bypoll held in 2014.

The leaked tape, which has conversations suggesting money changed hands to make Pawar, Congress candidate for the seat, withdraw at the last minute to facilitate the BJP nominee's victory, had triggered a huge political storm in Chhattisgarh with Baghel serving a show cause notice to Amit Jogi last month seeking his reply within seven days.

BJP chief Minister Raman Singh and both Jogis have rejected allegations of their involvement in the sordid episode. "We have passed a resolution to condemn the entire Antagarh audio tape row. The act of Ajit Jogi has tarnished the image of party and therefore the state party unit has reached this conclusion after an elaborate discussion," Baghel said.

The proposal to terminate party membership of Ajit Jogi, a Congress Working Committee member, will be sent to for approval, he added.

Meanwhile, Amit Jogi has said he will appeal the party high command against the decision of Congress' state unit. "I will appeal to the party high command in Delhi against the decision (of expulsion) and I believe I will get justice from AICC President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi”, he said. 

On December 30, hours after the audio tape controversy erupted, the Election Commission had asked the Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh to "urgently" institute a "suitable enquiry" into the emergence of the tape which suggested financial inducement behind the Congress candidate's withdrawal and directed him to submit a report latest by January 7 with his comments.

Manturam Pawar, then considered an Ajit Jogi loyalist, had withdrawn from the fray just a day ahead of the deadline and was later expelled from the party.

As a political row broke out after the tape surfaced, Baghel had served a show cause to Amit and demanded Raman Singh's sacking and a Supreme Court-monitored SIT probe into the matter, while the BJP had rejected the allegations, saying it was the result of "infighting" in the state Congress.

Singh had also trashed the allegations as "baseless" and a bid by the Congress to "drag BJP and his family" into controversy, while Ajit Jogi had dismissed the charge as "completely false" after terming the episode as a "conspiracy" against him and his son.

Amit Jogi had lodged a complaint at Civil Lines police station in Bilaspur against the newspaper, claiming the tape was doctored and that neither his father nor he made such calls.

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