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Jogi caste certificate goes missing

Bhopal, Feb. 2: The controversy surrounding Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi’s son, Amit’s, caste certificate has taken a new turn following confirmation that the document is missing from the Indore collectorate.

The incident came to light after Madhya Pradesh Governor Bhai Mahavir forwarded an allegation to chief minister Digvijay Singh that Amit Jogi had obtained a false certificate from Indore in 1988.

The BJP units in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have been targeting the Jogis, accusing them of “procuring” caste certificates that granted them tribal status, and threatened to make it an election issue. Assembly elections in the two states are to be held in November.

Earlier, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes had given an adverse ruling on the issue but the Congress rubbished the charge, pointing at its chairman Dileep Singh Bhuria’s political affiliation with the BJP.

However, the disappearance of the file from Indore, where Ajit Jogi had served as collector, has kicked off a fresh political row. The BJP accuses the Madhya Pradesh chief minister of being “hand-in-glove” with his Chattisgarh counterpart at the behest of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

Informed sources in the Madhya Pradesh secretariat said the chief minister had sought records from the Indore collectorate to furnish a “suitable reply” to the Governor. But the collector of Indore, Mohammad Sulaiman, wrote back that there was no trace of the said record in the name of Amit Ashwarya Jogi issued on January 29, 1998, months before state division took place. What is intriguing is that the registration number quoted in the complaint has matched with the sequence of documents but the particular record is missing.

In his defence, Sulaiman has sought an explanation from officers in charge of maintaining records, but the man who had issued the certificate is now posted outside Indore. The collector has also sought queries from lower-rung officials but he has not got any satisfactory reply.

In Congress circles of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the case of the missing files has been hotly debated. Some feel Digvijay Singh, having given Ajit Jogi a clean chit, seemed interested in keeping the issue alive as it enhances his bargaining potential with the party high command in an election year. Second, the controversy provides him a handle to “extract” more concessions from the neighbouring state, which is financially better off but refuses to part away with surplus power to the sibling.

The Chhattisgarh chief minister is tight-lipped. Sources close to him, however, said it was a “needless controversy” being raked up by the BJP to derive political mileage. Ajit Jogi supporters exuded confidence that Digvijay Singh would not “cross the Laxman rekha” of party discipline in settling political scores with Ajit Jogi. “After all, he, too, is accountable to Sonia Gandhi,” a source close to Ajit Jogi said.

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