Friday, November 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Digvijay to hold the reins
Jogiís ministry formation
From T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, NOV 2óThe Chief Minister of the newly created Chhattisgarh state, Mr Ajit Jogi ,has to willy nilly work under the shadow of his counterpart from Madhya Pradesh, Mr Digvijay Singh, for some time because of the latterís sway on party MPs and legislators.

Considering the emerging scenario, it will be extremely difficult for Mr Jogi to chart his own course which can cause complications and pose a threat to his stewardship of the fledgling Chhattisgarh.

It is learnt that Mr Jogi, who is rushing to the national Capital on Saturday for consultations with the Congress high command about the composition of his ministerial team, has reached a tacit understanding with Mr Digvijay Singh in this regard.

In an endeavour to ensure that there is minimal opposition to his leadership, Mr Jogi and Mr Digvijay Singh will also put their heads together in appointing chairpersons of the numerous Boards and Corporations in Chhattisgarh. That is usually the carrot dangled to those who have missed out on a ministerial berth.

Mr Digvijay Singh, who has held his own and kept the Congress flag flying during two consecutive terms in Madhya Pradesh, has to apply the healing touch to his supporters who have been left by the wayside in the leadership stakes for Chhattisgarh.

The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister has had to play second fiddle to the diktat of the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi. And considering his influence over the legislators and the rank and file of the Congress in Chhattisgarh, he cannot afford to ditch those loyal to him at this juncture.

Mr Jogi, in his new avatar as Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh carved out of Madhya Pradesh, realises that if he ignores and side steps Mr Digvijay Singh he might well set the stage for internal strife. It is obvious that Mr Jogi is biding time and wants a proper atmosphere so that the take off vis-ŗ-vis his Council of Ministers is smooth and incident- free.

Cabinet formation in Congress -ruled states at the best of times is a complex exercise. Even if Mr Jogi is familiar with the ground realities in Chhattisgarh and the lobbies at work in the yet-to-be-formed Pradesh Congress committee, he will necessarily have to undertake a delicate balancing exercise of accommodating all sections besides giving due weightage to those owing allegiance to the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister.

Lobbies have been activated that Mr Jogiís ministerial team must have a deputy chief minister. The names of Mr Bhupesh Bagil, a tribesman, and Mr Satyanarayan Sharma, an upper caste leader are already doing the rounds. With the mantle of chief minister already having gone to a tribesman in Mr Jogi, Mr Sharma might well be picked to be the Deputy Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh because of caste considerations.

In the first round, Mr Jogi is expected to induct 18-odd ministers to oversee as many departments. Then the Congress high command has also to put in place the chief of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee. Again there is intense discussion on whether this should be given to a tribal leader or an upper caste Congressman.

Meanwhile, there is discernible resentment among civil servants who have been brought within the ambit of the Chhattisgarh cadre. It is apparent a sizeable number of these bureaucrats are averse to taking up fresh assignments in Chhattisgarh.

They had made representations to the President and the Prime Minister for reconsidering the formula under which they have been assigned the Chhattisgarh cadre. The Union Government has rejected their representation on the ground that they could not find a better formula for distribution of civil servants to the new state. At the same time, some changes were effected in the final list of IAS and IPS officers shifted from Madhya Pradesh to the Chhattisgarh cadre. 

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