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After meeting with Rahul Gandhi, Bhupesh Baghel says no rotation of CM post in Chhattisgarh

While there had never been an official confirmation, TS Singh Deo loyalists allege that there had been an arrangement in 2018 for the leader to succeed Bhupesh Baghel as CM after two-and-a-half years.

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New Delhi: The much-awaited meeting between Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and the Congress leadership Friday ended with the CM hinting that there would be no rotation in the post, thus temporarily putting a lid on the brewing crisis in the state Congress unit.

The party had been in a turmoil since June over claims that an informal deal had been struck in 2018 that senior state Congress leader T.S. Singh Deo would succeed Baghel as the CM after the latter had completed two-and-a-half years in office.

After Friday’s meeting, Baghel told the media that he has invited Rahul Gandhi to Chhatisgarh, to “inspect the various projects and works there” being implemented by the state government and that the latter has accepted the invitation.

The meeting which started at 4 pm, lasted nearly four hours. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was also part of the meeting, but she joined in later. Congress General Secretary K.C. Venugopal had also joined the meeting towards the end.

“I told him (Rahul Gandhi) everything. There were political, as well state administrative discussions. In the end, I requested Rahul Gandhi to visit Chhattisgarh. He gladly accepted the invitation, he will be there next week,” Baghel said.

Baghel added that Gandhi will first visit Bastar and inspect the various works there.

Asked by the media about a potential change in the state leadership after two-and-a-half years of him leading the Chhattisgarh state government as CM, Baghel said, “P.L. Punia has already clarified this, I don’t need to say anything further. I have told my leader whatever I wanted to.”

Baghel’s statements have been greeted with silence in the T.S. Deo camp.

Earlier in the day, Venugopal had met the 55 MLAs who flew in from Chattisgarh to Delhi  Thursday. The MLAs, known to be close to Baghel had come to Delhi in a seeming show of strength for the leader.

“We have come to talk to our leaders. Our government is doing very well under Bhupesh Baghel’s leadership. We only want to tell the leadership to keep blessing us,” Amarjeet Bhagat, one of the MLAs in Delhi had told media.

Also read: UP Congress booklet tears into ‘corrupt, casteist, dynast’ SP, tries countering tie-up talk

The two-and-a-half-year conundrum

The Friday meeting was the second such for which Baghel had been summoned to Delhi by the Congress high command. His last meeting with the party leadership in Delhi had been on Tuesday. Singh Deo had also been party to that meeting.

Baghel had, however, denied any leadership crisis in Chhattisgarh after Tuesday’s meeting.

“Those talking about two-and-a-half years plan are trying to bring political instability, but will never succeed,” Baghel had told the media Wednesday.

Singh Deo, had, on the other hand, made clear his interest in becoming CM.

“If a person plays in a team then doesn’t he think about becoming the captain? Everyone thinks about that, but the question is not about his thoughts, it’s about his capabilities. The high command takes the decision,” he had told the media.

The Congress party had come to power in Chhattisgarh in 2018, winning 68 of 90 assembly seats in the election.

However, there were three leaders aspiring to be CM at the time, Baghel, Singh Deo, and Tamradhwaj Sahu. While there was never any official declaration by the Congress leadership, the Singh Deo camp alleges that there was an arrangement that Baghel will be given the CM post for the first two-and-a-half years, and then Deo will succeed to the post. In June this year, Baghel completed the said tenure.

Both leaders have important roles to play in the party. While Baghel is a popular OBC face in the state, Singh Deo had led much of the Congress’ campaigning in 2018.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Allow me freedom to take decisions or will give ‘befitting reply’, Navjot Sidhu tells Congress


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