New Delhi: Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi (74) died yesterday 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.
PM condoles death
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.
Among the tallest
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 Jogi’s Chief Ministership — for six years and recommended action against Ajit Jogi. Throughout his political career, Jogi faced repeated scrutiny over his claim of being an Adivasi. Several petitions and cases were filed against the former CM and predictably, all of them were legally challenged by him.
A gold medal winner, an engineering graduate and a successful IAS officer, Jogi’s proximity to the Gandhi family transformed him into a seasoned politician.
Was collector of Raipur
The story goes that 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, 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. In November 2000, when the new State of Chhattisgarh was created, Jogi was chosen by Sonia Gandhi to head the State, pipping veterans like Moti Lal Vohra and 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.