Ajit Jogi, pivot of tribal and dalit politics, dies at 74
Ajit Pramod Jogi, the maverick politician and the first chief minister of Chhattisgarh, who was the pivot of tribal and dalit politics in the state, died this Friday afternoon. He was 74.
The former CM, who breathed his last in a Raipur hospital, was reported to be working on his autobiography.
Jogi, through dint of hard work, became a formidable political force in the state. He was a voracious reader, brilliant orator, a jan-neta and extremely popular among schedule tribes, schedule castes and Muslims in the plains of Chhattisgarh.
He began his journey from the village pathshala and worked his way through numerous achievements and failures alike.
Watch | Chhattisgarh’s first CM Ajit Jogi passes away; President, PM Modi pay tribute
Awed by the power and charisma of a Parsi IAS officer who visited his village, kid Jogi decided to become a bureaucrat. His Marathi Brahmin teacher guided him in that direction by prodding him to learn English. Brilliant in studies since childhood, Jogi went to study engineering in Bhopal. As was his habit, he topped his engineering class in 1964.
Jogi first got selected into the Indian Police Service (IPS) but while training in Mussoorie, he felt that officers from other services were treated condescendingly by the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers. He sat for the exam again and secured a high rank, which then made him eligible to qualify for the IAS.
As per his records, he served as collector for 12 years in different districts before resigning in 1986 and joining the Congress. He was sent to the Rajya Sabha twice by the Congress in 1986-92 and 1992-98.
It was during his stint as Raipur collector that Jogi got acquainted with Rajiv Gandhi.
“Rajiv ji was a pilot and when he used to come to Raipur, I visited him at the airport. He always treated me as a friend. We used to talk for hours on various issues in the VIP lounge of Raipur airport,” Jogi told this reporter during an interview in 2018.
Soon after Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister of the country. The Congress needed a tribal face to represent it in the Rajya Sabha and it was Digvijaya Singh who suggested the name of Ajit Jogi.
Within a day, the bureaucrat resigned to become a politician. Ajit Jogi climbed the success ladder swiftly, becoming one of the most celebrated spokespersons of the Congress. He shared an anecdote during an interview that Narendra Modi and he used to commute to the News Studios in the same car.
Being the destiny’s child, Ajit Jogi left behind many stalwarts to become the first chief minister of Chhattisgarh. The newly carved state with a majority tribal population got its leader.
However, his political fortunes declined because of the infighting within the Congress. After the defeat in the 2003 assembly election, Jogi attracted a host of controversies right till his death.
In 2003, the BJP released a purported audio tape alleging he tried to break up the party by bribing its MLAs due to which Jogi was suspended.
But after a few months, he was again fielded by the Congress against Vidya Charan Shukla, who was contesting on BJP ticket, in 2004 parliamentary election from Mahasamund constituency. Jogi defeated Shukla.
It was during this campaign, Jogi met with a road accident near Rajim and was wheelchair bound since then.
Controversy around his tribal status remained inconclusive till the end.
Jogi parted ways with the Congress in 2016 after he and his son were found allegedly involved in fixing of the Antahgarh by-election in Kanker district. Thereafter, Jogi formed his own party Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) in June 2016.
In the 2018 assembly election, Jogi, in coalition with the BSP, managed to get seven seats. In total 90 seats, the Congress won 68 seats while the BJP was reduced to 15. Jogi himself won from his traditional seat Marwahi.
An ardent Madhubala fan, Jogi remained a versatile human being till the end.
Chhattisgarh has lost its own son of the soil. Surrounded by books till his last breath, his autobiography, if published would be a lesson on politics and life.
He was the quintessential Chhattisgarhiya, who lived in a bungalow situated in the heart of city known as ‘Sagaun Bangla’.