Will Ajit Jogi get a phoenix moment?

BSP supremo Mayawati and Janata Congress (Chhatisgarh) President Ajit Jogi during a press conference to annouce their alliance for assembly polls in Chhatisgarh, in Lucknow on Sept 20, 2018. PTI

In politics no one is written off permanently. And there is no one to justify this theory better than Ajit Jogi, the first Chief Minister of Chhattishgarh.

Though he demitted office 15 years ago and cut his umbilical cord with Congress after three decades of association, Jogi is still politically relevant in the central Indian state and may even hold the key to government formation once the results are out.

What no one, however, knows at the moment is whether the IPS officer-turned IAS officer-turned politician will be the king or the king-maker or the spoiler in the state with small constituencies, where shifting of few thousand votes can seal the fate of a candidate.

In the last couple of months, his campaigning didn't have any sign of a politician out of power as he flies from one constituency to another in a helicopter and travel to the interior in his custom-made vehicle, giving rise to speculations on the source of such funding.

Since his accident in 2004, he is wheelchair-bound restricting his mobility, but that didn't dent the political acumen of the 72 year old willy fox who count Ajit Doval and Digvijay Singh among his batch mates in various institutions.

From his experience of serving Chhattishgarh (then a part of undivided Madhya Pradesh) as a bureaucrat in the 1970s and 1950s, he knew the state like the back of his palm and commands a significant chunk of Satnami (Scheduled Caste) votes in areas around Bilaspur.

This time he tied up with Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati to present the BSP-Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (J) combine as the third option.

With Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe combining nearly 50% of the state's population, the alliance is a force to reckon with. But there are criticism against the combine as many believed it would cut into the Congress vote bank, benefitting the BJP.

Jogi is no stranger to controversy. The last time he kicked up a massive row was in 2014 when he allegedly fielded ten dummy candidates with same name as his BJP opponent in the Mahasamund Parliamentary constituency to cut into saffron vote. The trick didn't work.

This time to overcome the handicap of fighting with a new poll symbol, Jogi printed his poll promises in a stamp paper and distributed among the voters in an effort to create an illusion of the legal validity of his poll promise.

Had the antic worked? The answer would be known only on December 11.

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Will Ajit Jogi get a phoenix moment?

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