Wheelchair bound, yet Ajit Jogi travels more than anyone

November 18th, 2008 - 3:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Nov 18 (IANS) He has been confined to a wheelchair since a road accident in April 2004 that almost killed him. Yet, Congress leader and former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi has toured more constituencies and addressed more meetings than any other politician in the state.When he met with the accident, he was campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections. It left him so battered that few thought he would survive. And when he did, even breathing became an ordeal.

But the tragedy did generate tremendous sympathy for the bureaucrat-turned-politician. He won the Mahasamund Lok Sabha seat in 2004 by over 100,000 votes, defeating nine-time Congress MP Vidya Charan Shukla. Shukla was a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate.

Years later, Jogi’s legs remain paralysed following a severe spinal cord injury. Jogi’s family says that stem cell therapy has helped him - but only to some extent.

With an electronic wheelchair that can lift him on to a dais and also into his car with the press of a button, Jogi, now 62, has addressed 115 public rallies across 74 assembly seats between Nov 1-17. Chhattisgarh’s second and final round of polling to pick a new assembly is due Thursday.

The Congress is heavily banking on Jogi, the first chief minister of the state that was born Nov 1, 2000. With the BJP seemingly firmly entrenched, the Congress knows only a fighter to the core can dethrone the BJP.

And notwithstanding his physical condition, Jogi remains a fighter.

Both Congress and BJP sources admit that perhaps no other state politician of his stature has addressed so many meetings and toured so many constituencies as Jogi.

Chief Minister Raman Singh has addressed 91 meetings in 62 constituencies since Nov 1.

“He (Jogi) does physiotherapy for two hours daily in morning hours to handle a tight, almost 18-19 hour daily schedule,” Shailesh Nitin Trivedi, political secretary to Jogi, told IANS.

Amit Aishwarya Jogi, the lone son of Ajit Jogi, added: “Despite a vigorous schedule, he has been able to carry on like any other person due to tremendous will power. Many doctors are surprised how he handles his daily routine.”

Added the junior Jogi: “Papa goes to bed at about one hour after midnight and wakes up at 5.30 a.m. The Chhattisgarh people’s love for him and god’s blessings are keeping him going.

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