The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong’s Black Sunday fells Jogi

Raipur/Mumbai, April 11: Black Sunday revisited the Congress today when former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi suffered severe spinal injury when his car crashed into a tree early in the morning.

Jogi was being operated upon tonight at Bombay Hospital after being flown to Mumbai for treatment. His legs were said to have gone numb, but doctors at the hospital said his condition was stable. Dr B.K. Goyal, the dean of the hospital’s cardiology department, said: “He is conscious and also spoke.”

The general secretary of the Congress’ Chhattisgarh unit, Mehttar Lal Sahu, and the car’s driver were also injured.

Jogi, the Congress candidate for Mahasamund where he is pitted against former party heavyweight and now BJP nominee Vidya Charan Shukla, was on his campaign trail when the accident occurred at Gariabandh, about 130 km from the Chhattisgarh capital of Raipur.

Security guards following in another car pulled Jogi, Sahu and the driver out and took them to a nearby hospital and then to a private nursing home, Modern Medical Institute, in Raipur. After an MRI scan, doctors decided to shift Jogi to Bombay Hospital.

His wife Renu, who is a gynaecologist, and son Amit accompanied him.

This is the third time a Congress leader has met with an accident on a Sunday.

The accident would not have taken place had a guesthouse at Mainpur, some 10 km before the site of the tragedy, opened its doors to Jogi and his associates. As no one responded to their knocks, they moved on towards Deobhang for an early-morning meeting. Sources said at the time of the accident, Jogi was sleeping in the back seat.

Moving Jogi to Mumbai was not easy. First, Congress leaders and officials of the BJP-ruled state tried to arrange an air-ambulance, but could not get one.

Chief minister Raman Singh offered the state aircraft, but there was the model code of conduct to take care of. The plane was used after taking the permission of chief electoral officer. In the past, when he was chief minister, Jogi had got into trouble for “misuse” of a state aircraft.

Jogi was defeated in last year’s bitterly fought Assembly elections amid mud-slinging between the BJP and the Congress, but today political rivalry fell by the wayside.

At the Raipur nursing home, there were possibly more leaders from the BJP than the Congress. Shukla, who faces off with Jogi in the April 20 election, was among them. The chief minister, who was away from the capital to receive L.K. Advani on his Bharat Uday yatra, offered all help. Advani spoke to Jogi’s wife.

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