King in Chhattisgarh, kingmaker in 2019. Congress rebel Ajit Jogi has no doubt about his role in the coming election in Chhattisgarh and the national polls early next year. "We have made an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Left. It has decided that I will be chief minister," said Ajit Jogi, who served as the first chief minister of Chhattisgarh after it was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000.
As for prime minister, Mr Jogi was equally emphatic that BSP leader Mayawati is most suitable for the top job.
"I have always believed that a non-Congress, non-BJP coalition will have a majority in 2019. It will be decided then (who will be PM) but I personally believe Mayawati deserves it as the first Dalit, a woman, as a politician from Uttar Pradesh and as a four-time chief minister," Mr Jogi, 72, said.
Mr Jogi has been an Indian Police service (IPS) and Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer. He became a Rajya Sabha member in 1986. After around three decades in the Congress, he quit in 2016 after being sidelined by the party. Weeks later, he formed his own party.
The Congress, which failed to seal a pact with Mayawati in months of alliance talks, fears that its rebel leader and his son will dent the party's chances in the state polls. The party had eyed an easy victory over the BJP, which is seen to face anti-incumbency after three straight terms.
Mr Jogi has boasted that his alliance took shape in just a few hours of discussion with Mayawati.
Elections for the 90-seat Chhattisgarh assembly will be held in two phases on November 12 and 20.
The Mayawati-Ajit Jogi alliance is being watched with interest as opposition parties work towards a grand coalition to take on the BJP in the 2019 general election. "People are fed up of both the national parties," Mr Jogi said.