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Power crisis in Chhattisgarh leaves Baghel in soup

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New Delhi, June 08: Severe power crisis across Chhattisgarh has left Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in a soup.

According to various local media reports, the power supply situation in the state is so bad that even the urban areas have been suffering due to frequent power cuts.

File photo of Bhupesh Baghel

The situation is worse in the rural areas where the power cuts of 6-8 hours is a routine at a time when the summer is at its acme.

In a meeting on Thursday, Baghel asked the officials about the reason for frequent power cuts when the state produces surplus electricity.

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According to sources, the Chief Minister warned the officials that dereliction in duty won't be tolerated and strict action would be taken against the guilty officials. He said the action can also come in the form of not only suspension but termination also.

The problem with Baghel is that he is also holding the charge of power ministry and he has been in the firing line of the opposition leaders for dismal power situation in the state.

In its election manifesto, the Congress had not only promised to improve electricity supply in the state but also to cut the electricity bill by 50 per cent.

Now, Baghel is being accused of reducing the power supply by 50 per cent instead of electricity bills.

Though the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is also cornering Baghel over the poor power supply scenario in the state, but it's Chhattisgarh Janta Congress (Jogi) state president Amit Jogi, one of the most vocal opponents of Baghel, who has been launching a scathing attack on the Chief Minister on a regular basis.

He alleges that the Thursday meeting of Baghel is just an eyewash and he has been threatening the officials to divert people's attention from the main issue, which is electricity production.

Jogi alleges that Baghel has been lying about having surplus power in the state.

"As per the government's reply in the Assembly and the audit reports of the power supply companies, there is a shortfall of 407 crore units of electricity in the state. Therefore, increasing the power production and not threatening the officials will solve the problem," says Jogi.

The JCC(J) leader alleges that neither Congress government nor erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government cared about increasing economical electricity production in the state.

"Chhattisgarh's Marwa Thermal Power Station produces the costliest electricity in the country. Former BJP government led by Dr. Raman Singh could not increase electricity production in the state despite signing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) worth over Rs 4 lakh crore with the power companies," alleges Jogi.

He maintains that if the Chhattisgarh government works sensibly, sincerely and transparently then the mineral-rich state is capable of producing the world's cheapest electricity.

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Jogi has demanded since Baghel is also the Power Minister, therefore, he should release a White Paper on the electricity production and consumption in the state to clear the air on the issue.

Political analysts say that Amit Jogi has been playing the role of the main opposition in Chhattisgarh and he will not leave any stone unturned to see Baghel's tenure remains tumultuous.

"Many leaders of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) from anti-Raman Singh group have close relations with Baghel, who had covertly helped them on many occasions when the Congress was in opposition. State's political circles still recount how a particular All India General Secretary in-charge of Chhattisgarh had compromised the party's interest at the behest of local Congress leaders. The politics of quid pro quo was prevalent during the BJP's rule and the same policy is being adopted when Congress is ruling the state. The only problem for Baghel are Ajit Jogi and Amit Jogi as both sides have a personal animosity against each other," a political source from Raipur tells One India.

​It is notable that Baghel is credited for the departure of Amit Jogi and Ajit Jogi, who once enjoyed a close relationship with then Congress president Sonia Gandhi, from the Congress.

Amit Jogi was expelled from the Congress, after an audio tape purportedly revealed that the Antagarh Assembly seat bypoll in 2014 was fixed.

Later Ajit Jogi also resigned from the party. The audio tapes contained alleged phone conversations between Ajit Jogi and his son Amit; Dr. Puneet Gupta, son-in-law of former CM Dr Raman Singh; Manturam Pawar, the Congress candidate in the 2014 Antagarh bypoll, and former Jogi loyalists Firoz Siddiqui and Ameen Memon, to "fix" the by-poll.

Jogis see Baghel's hand in poaching their old confidante Siddiqui, who had released the audio tapes.

In February, the Chhattisgarh police registered a first information report (FIR) against Ajit Jogi, Amit Jogi, former PWD minister Rajesh Munat, Dr. Gupta, and Pawar in connection with the Antagarh tapes case.

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