A high-level panel set up by the Chhattisgarh government has dismissed former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi’s claim of being a tribal, following which his caste certificate has been revoked. Bilaspur District Collector P Dayanand said Jogi’s Scheduled Tribe certificate has been cancelled. The official, however, refused to divulge further details regarding the matter. The panel, formed on the Supreme Court’s 2011 directive to look into the authenticity of the former Congress stalwart’s tribal status, is learnt to have finalised the report last week.
While the Raman Singh government is yet to make the report public, Ajit Jogi’s MLA son Amit has termed the move “politically motivated,” claiming that the report was prepared not by the “high-powered but by the CM-powered committee.” “The report (by the high-powered committee) is politically motivated. It was a CM-powered committee which was working on the direction of Raman ‘sarkar.’ Both the BJP and the Congress feel threatened after the formation of our new party Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC),” said Amit, who represents Marwahi constituency in Bilaspur district, the home turf of Jogis.
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Amit Jogi said they will move the court against the committee’s “decision.” The opposition Congress, meanwhile, has demanded that an FIR be lodged against the Jogi father-son duo for “presenting forged documents to maintain his tribal caste status.” “In a memorandum submitted to state governor, we have urged to lodge FIRs against Jogi and his son Amit for presenting forged documents related to their caste,” the state Congress said in a statement today. The controversy over Ajit Jogi’s tribal status has been a political issue in the state since 2001.
In 2001, the BJP leader Sant Kumar Netam had complained to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes that Ajit Jogi had claimed Scheduled Tribe on the basis of forged documents. Another BJP leader and the chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes Nandkumar Sai had also lodged a petition in a court on the issue. The matter later went to the Supreme Court which ordered the state government in October 2011 to form a high-power committee to decide the case. In January this year, the Chhattisgarh High Court had asked the state government that the committee should give its report by May 31.
Ajit Jogi had served as the first chief minister of Chhattisgarh from November 2000 to November 2003. He had served as an MLA from the Marwahi seat, rweserved for Scheduled Tribes. Last year, he parted ways with the Congress after he and his son got embroiled in a controversy over alleged fixing of the by-election held for Antagarh seat in Kanker district in 2014. Congress had fielded Manturam Pawar as the candidate for the bypoll. Pawar, however, withdrew his nomination a day before the deadline without informing party leaders, as a result of which the BJP registered a thumping victory in the election.
After about a year, an audio tape containing telephonic talks purportedly between Chief Minister Raman Singh’s son- in-law Puneet Gupta, Ajit Jogi, then a Congress leader, and Amit Jogi surfaced in December 2015, hinting at their alleged involvement in “fixing” the bypoll. Jogi, who had been sulking for long over being sidelined in the Congress, floated a new regional party the ‘Janata Congress Chhattisgarh’ last year.