Raipur, May 29 : Chhattisgarh slipped into shock on Friday following passing away of Ajit Pramod Kumar Jogi.
Jogi, 74, breathed his last at a private hospital around 3.30 p.m. He was a household name in the tribal state as he rose from the rank of a poor tribal to first Chief Minister of the mineral-rich state.
Jogi was confined to wheelchair since April 2004 following a near-fatal road accident during Lok Sabha electioneering. He was a brilliant IAS officer first and then an outstanding politician and his friends and foes describe him as “a person of rare will power”.
Jogi was born in a poor family at village Jogisar (now under Marwahi assembly segment in Chhattisgarh) on April 29, 1946. He defied all odds to excel in IAS exam in 1970 and served as as Collector in undivided Madhya Pradesh before taking a plunge into politics in 1986 on instruction of Gandhi family.
“He was a statesman, his daily schedule stretched to at least 16 hours. I have never seen a hard working man like Jogi, an extraordinary will power was his added advantage,” remarked senior politician and MLA Dharamjeet Singh who was known as the closest person to Jogi.
Chhattisgarh’s cabinet minister and senior tribal leader Kawasi Lakhma summed up his life: “Jogi was a champion for impoverished tribal community which make up roughly 30 per cent of state’s population. He was a true defender of tribal rights and had always strongly highlighted tribals’ plight as a parliamentarian in Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha besides out in the streets of central India”.
He completed his Mechanical Engineering degree from Maulana Azad College of Technology, Bhopal with a Gold Medal. Jogi was selected for the Indian Police Service and Indian Administrative Service and set a record of the longest serving Collector/District Magistrate for over 12 years at Sidhi, Shahdol, Raipur and Indore districts of undivided Madhya Pradesh from 1974 to 1986.
He had a deep family connect with Congress’ Gandhi family which helped him to outsmart veteran politician V.C. Shukla in his backyard in race for Chhattisgarh’s first Chief Minister when the state was formed in November 2000 with the division of Madhya Pradesh.
He led the Congress government till November 2003 when the BJP came to power in the state’s maiden assembly polls. Jogi’s political downfall started from late 2013 as he failed to live up to Gandhi family’s expectations to checkmate Raman Singh-led BJP government in two successive assembly elections in 2008 and 2013.
After having a strained relationship with the Gandhi family, he finally quit Congress in June 2016 and floated a regional party. But he was largely living in political isolation after Congress stormed to power in the state in 2018 assembly polls and his bete noire Bhupesh Baghel became chief minister.
Baghel in his reaction termed Jogi’s demise as “a massive political loss” to the state, while BJP leader Raman Singh who ruled the state for 15 consecutive years, said: “Jogi’s death has brought an end to a political era in the state.”
Jogi is survived by his wife Renu Jogi and son Amit Jogi.