Other States

Ajit Jogi, Chhattisgarh’s first CM, passes away

Ajit Jogi. File

Ajit Jogi. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil KumarVerma

The former bureaucrat-turned-politician, once the Adivasi face of Congress, quit the party and floated a regional outfit

Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, 74, died on Friday after being hospitalised in Raipur following a heart attack. His death was announced on Twitter by his son Amit Jogi. 

The former bureaucrat-turned-politician, who was the incumbent MLA from the Marwahi seat, was the first chief minister of Chhattisgarh after it was carved out of Madhya Pradesh as a separate State in November 2000. 

Tributes pour in

Tributes poured in from across the political spectrum. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, offering his condolences to the bereaved family, tweeted,“Shri Ajit Jogi Ji was passionate about public service. This passion made him work hard as a bureaucrat and as a political leader.”

“Jogi ji’s death is an irreparable loss to the State. He laid a roadmap for the development of the State and delivered an important role as a skilled politician and administrator in its progress,” said Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who declared a three-day State mourning.

“After the creation of the State, I got the opportunity to work as a cabinet minister in the government headed by Jogi. He set the direction to work for the welfare of villages, poor and farmers in the State,” he added.

Among the tallest

Mr. Jogi lost power in the 2003 Assembly elections but continued to be one of the tallest leaders of the Congress party until he and his son got embroiled in a controversy over a leaked audio tape towards the end of 2015. The Congress party expelled Amit Jogi — known to be a power centre during Mr. Jogi’s chief ministership — for six years and recommended action against the former chief minister after allegations that they “had forced” Manturam Pawar to withdraw his nomination as the Congress party’s official candidate in a bye-election.

The Jogis denied the charge and formally quit the Congress in 2016 and floated a regional outfit, the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh. 

Repeated scrutiny

But this was not the only controversy to have surrounded him. Through out his political career, Mr. Jogi faced repeated scrutiny over his claim of being an Adivasi. Several petitions and cases were filed against the former chief minister and predictably, all of them were legally challenged by him.

A gold medal winner, an engineering graduate and a successful IAS officer, Mr. Jogi’s proximity to the Gandhi family transformed him into a seasoned politician.

The story goes that Mr. Jogi, as the Collector of Raipur in early 1980s, had struck up a friendship with Rajiv Gandhi, who was operating a regular commercial flight to the city those days. In 1985, when Rajiv Gandhi took charge as the Prime Minister, Mr. Jogi took the formal plunge into politics and rose to become a prominent Adivasi face in the party. 

A year later, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha and served two consecutive terms. In 1998, he won the Raigarh Lok Sabha seat and became a spokesperson for the Congress party.

Chosen to lead

In November 2000, when the new State of Chhattisgarh was created, Mr. Jogi was chosen by Sonia Gandhi to head the State, pipping veterans like Moti Lal Vohra and the late Vidya Charan Shukla.

After losing power to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the State in 2003, he returned to the 14th Lok Sabha as a member of Parliament from the Mahasamund seat. 

But a near fatal car crash during the 2004 election campaign left him paralysed and wheelchair-bound. 

In 2008, he went back to his State to successfully contest the Assembly elections from the Marwahi Assembly seat, a reserved constituency. But after the Congress could not to wrest back the State from the BJP, he once again became a Lok Sabha member in 2009, but failed to win his seat in 2014.

Through his life, Mr. Jogi always fought the odds to make a comeback but his dream of returning as the Chief Minister remain unfulfilled as he was out of the Congress long before his former party became the ruling party in Chhattisgarh.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 6:11:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ajit-jogi-chhattisgarhs-first-cm-passes-away/article31702478.ece

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