Chhattisgarh: 16 Cong MLAs land in Delhi, spark change-of-guard rumours

The MLAs, who are speculated to have come down to Delhi to extend their support for Chief Minister Bhupesh Singh Baghel, have said they are in the capital to discuss a proposed visit of Rahul Gandhi to the state instead

Chief Minister Bhupesh Singh Baghel is facing opposition from Health Minister Minister TS Singh Deo,who has demanded the former to vacate the chief minister's chair for him as per an arrangement made in 2018, a claim that the Congress has denied

Amid raging speculations about a change of leadership in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh due to the feud between Chief Minister Bhupesh Singh Baghel and state Health Minister TS Singh Deo, around 16 Congress of MLAs reached Delhi on Wednesday (September 29), reportedly to express their support for Baghel.

The MLAs, however, rubbished the speculations, and said they were in the capital to have discussions on the proposed tour of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to the state.

“Around 15-16 party MLAs have reached Delhi and are staying at different places. Rahul ji’s visit to Chhattisgarh is proposed. We wanted to convey a request to Rahul ji through our state in-charge PL Punia ji that he should extend a little the duration of his tour so that all the MLAs could get benefit of it,” said Brihaspat Singh, the party MLA from Chhattisgarh’s Ramanujganj constituency.

“We have come to Delhi just to make this request and we will speak to Punia sir on Thursday in this regard. Our visit should not be seen in other way,” he told PTI.

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Also read: C’garh Congress in a fix: Baghel tries hard to stop Singh Deo from taking over

Asked whether their visit was to support Baghel, Singh said their chief minister already has the “blessing” of the party high command and faces no threat of an ouster.

“Our party has 70 MLAs (in the 90-member state assembly), of whom 60 legislators had last time told everything to Punia ji. When there is blessing of the high command, support of the MLAs and the chief minister is working well, then no such issue (of leadership change) exists,” he said.

He also denied the alleged tussle between Baghel and state health minister TS Singh Deo and said that both the leaders had recently shared the stage and exchanged sweets. He also said that they respect each other.

“The situation in Chhattisgarh is not similar to Punjab. The high command of any party would not put the entire government at stake just to make one leader happy…,” he said without naming anyone.

Singh, considered close to Baghel, was embroiled in a controversy in July this year when he alleged that there was a threat to his life from Singh Deo. However, the MLA, who hails from Singh Deo’s home turf Sarguja, later withdrew the claim.

The demand for a change of guard reared its head after Baghel completed two-and-a-half years as chief minister in June 2021. The Singh Deo camp claimed that the high command in 2018 had agreed to hand over the post to him after the government completed half its term.

Congress in-charge of the state PL Punia has time and again denied that any such deal was struck in 2018 when the party came to power by dislodging the BJP.

The Congress high command summoned both Baghel and Singh Deo to Delhi in August to resolve the feud.

It appeared that Baghel had won this round when he told reporters upon return that party leader Rahul Gandhi had agreed to visit the state on his invitation, and those talking about rotating the chief minister’s post were promoting political instability.

As many as 54 out of 70 Congress MLAs had visited Delhi separately when Baghel was in the national capital, in an apparent show of strength on his side.

While both Baghel and Singh Deo have desisted from saying anything about the leadership issue since then, the feud has not abated.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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