Acting quickly on a Chhattisgarh Congress recommendation that Gunderdehi MLA RK Rai be suspended, the AICC disciplinary committee on Wednesday has suspended him until further notice. Rai, who has consistently shared the dais with Ajit Jogi, who formed the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress after breaking away from the Congress, had spoken out against the Congress leadership. In fact, on Tuesday Rai sharpened his attack on Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, and said that he would “call a donkey a donkey, and not a horse.”
After months of similar attacks against the party, things had come to a head last week when he said that the Congress was anti- tribal and attacked Rahul Gandhi, forcing the Congress to issue him a showcause notice. In his response to the notice Rai questioned the delay in the action against him, and went on to say that as many as 17 Congress MLA’s were in touch with Ajit Jogi.
Chhattisgarh’s politics has thus far been centred around the BJP and the Congress in its 16 year existence, but the entry of the CJC has queered the pitch, given it is headed by the first chief minister of the state in Ajit Jogi. So far, most Congress MLA’s have chosen to keep their own counsel with elections now just two years away, but those that have openly shown their loyalty towards him include his son Amit Jogi, wife Renu Jogi and Siyaram Kaushik.
In a press conference of his own Siyaram Kaushik said that he had been elected by the people for five years, and would continue to play that role. He said that while the suspension of Rai was an “internal party matter”, he supported Rai’s comments on the state Congress leadership not being represented by tribals in the state. Along with Rai, Kaushik has shared the stage with Jogi at every major CJC function and rally, with the party facing a similar bind as in with Rai. “There is a balance that we have to maintain. If we suspend or expel them, they are free to continue as MLA’s, but if they resign they cease to be Congress MLA’s. These people fought on a Congress ticket. If they are loyal to Ajit Jogi, why are they not resigning? The people will give them an answer,” a senior Congress leader said.