In 2018, the Congress had come to power in three states- Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, after a string of humiliating electoral defeats.
More than one year since the grand old party came into power in these three states, the Congress state governments have been in news for all the wrong reasons. Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan governments are in particular involved in all kinds of controversies.
Insofar as controversies and internal dissensions are concerned, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel seems far better placed than his counterparts- Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot.
All the three Chief Ministers represent the Old Guard and have been Nehru-Gandhi family loyalists. It was also due to this sycophancy that Gehlot and Kamal Nath prevailed over the young party leaders- Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia respectively.
The tussle between the young leaders and the Old Guard that started in the run-up to the Assembly polls in 2018 has continued even now. This has meant trouble for the Old Guard, particularly for Kamal Nath with Jyotiraditya’s strong faction constantly training guns at him. The tussle between Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot, though not as blatant as the one in Madhya Pradesh unit has kept the Rajasthan Congress unit on the edge.
Bhupesh Baghel faces no such challenge to his leadership. There is no Scindia or Pilot to challenge his leadership. In fact, Baghel is the only one out of these three Chief Minister who is truly and firmly in control of affairs. As such, he is the only one who can claim to be a tall leader.
Even on the governance front, he stands at a better footing than his counterparts in Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan. Kamal Nath’s tenure is turning out be nightmarish with a plethora of anti-Hindu decisions and policies such as cancelling the pilgrimage of over 4000 old age Hindu residents without providing any solid reasons for the same.
The ‘Mukhya Mantri Teerath Darshan Yojna” launched in 2012 by Shivraj Singh Chauhan provides for the free pilgrimage of elders to Mata Vaishno Devi, Dwarka, Rameshwaram and Kashi. But Kamal Nath government cancelled the pilgrimage just three days before the first train was to leave with 800 pilgrims.
His poll promises too remain unfulfilled, and the failure to honour promises of farm loan waiver and absorption of guest teachers in state government service, have, in particular, led to massive outrage including agitation threats from Scindia.
As far as Rajasthan is concerned, the death of more than 100 infants at the JK Lon government hospital in Kota, Rajasthan remains a blot on the Gehlot government. It has also led to outrage from the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee President and Deputy Chief Minister, Sachin Pilot.
Taking a dig at his own government, he had said, “I think our response to this (Kota infants’ deaths) could have been more compassionate and sensitive. After being in power for 13 months I think it serves no purpose to blame the previous government’s misdeeds. Accountability should be fixed.”
He had added, “Itne sare bacchon ki maut hui hai. Jimmedari tay karni hogi. Vasundra ji ne kuch galat kiya to janta ne unhain hara diya. Magar ab toh hamari jimmedari banti hai (So many children have died. We have to fix responsibility. People voted out Vasundhra Raje for her wrongs. But now it’s our responsibility).”
On the other hand, Bhupesh Baghel’s tenure as Chhattisgarh CM has been far less controversial. The recent four-month verification drive by the Baghel government using Aadhar cards led to the discovery that every one in four ration cards is bogus.
On the face of it, Baghael government doesn’t look as incompetent or inefficient as the Kamal Nath government or the Gehlot government which have been abject failures.
Chhattisgarh CM, Baghel has had his own share of controversies such as the fake sex CD scandal that had brought him in a spot of bother in the run-up to the Assembly polls in 2018. Recently, the Chhattisgarh government challenged the Constitutional validity of the NIA Act, threatening the very existence of the National Investigation Agency (NIA)- a highly absurd move on the part of a government of a state hit by Naxal violence, ever since it came into existence.
However, when analysed in the context of Kamal Nath and Gehlot, Baghel appears far less controversial and much taller than his counterparts from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.