Express News Service
NEW DELHI/RAIPUR: Amid speculation of a change of guard in Chhattisgarh, the Congress high command on Saturday appointed chief minister Bhupesh Baghel as a senior observer for the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh.
The appointment of Baghel amid persisting infighting in the party has raised further doubts over his continuation as the CM. But talking to reporters in Raipur, he asserted that his state can never become Punjab and that the two states bear only one similarity, of numbers in their names.
“Chhattisgarh will always remain Chhattisgarh. It cannot become Punjab. The two states have only one similarity that both have numbers in their names,” Baghel told reporters at the helipad here when pointed out that the BJP was equating Chhattisgarh and Punjab over turmoil in the Congress.
Plausible reasons for appointing Bhupesh Baghel as observer:
A known OBC face of the Congress party
Led Congress and secured a thumping majority in 2018 Chhattisgarh Assembly polls
He is a farmer, so might carry an obvious appeal for the Congress party in 2022 UP polls owing to his pro-farmer policy implemented in the state
One of the very few senior Congress leaders who aggressively attacks BJP, RSS
“Punjab is land of punj (five) aab (water). It is made up of five rivers. Similarly Chhattisgarh has derived its name from ‘chhattis’ (thirty six) ‘garh’ (fort). No other states have numbers in their names. There is no other similarity between the two states,” he added.
The speculation over a leadership change is also because 20-odd Congress legislators and leaders, most of them first time MLAs and known to close to the CM, are again camping in Delhi. Sources said they have been sent to act as a “pressure group” against any change of guard.
While the MLAs cited “personal” reasons for their visit to Delhi, Baghel said there was no ban on the legislators from going anywhere they wanted to and they are independent. “It is not a political movement. You ask if it is a political movement. They will visit and return,” he added.
Sources said the legislators have not been able to meet the party high command to express their support for Baghel. They said the high command appears to be adamant on executing a change of guard in Chhattisgarh. “Baghel may be replaced by TS Singh Deo. The appointment of Baghel as an observer is the first move before the change,” the sources said. Meanwhile, Singh Deo cited the ongoing political situation as an opportunity rather than a tug-of-war within the party.
‘Will do my best for the party in new role’Terming it a big responsibility, Baghel said, “The Congress president has directed me to be a senior observer for UP. I will try my best to live up to the expectations of the leadership.” ‘Parivartan ka sankalp, Congress hi vikalp’ (Resolve is of change, Cong is alternative), he tweeted.