For the last few years, Amarinder Singh was seen as a big problem for the Nehru-Gandhi family as he never listened to the Congress high command and ran the administration like a one-man show. The high command deployed Navjot Singh Sidhu in order to rein in Amarinder and this has led to a division of Punjab Congress into two camps and the ugly fight still continues with the two parties washing dirty laundry in public. And now, another leader who believes in a one-man show like him is emerging in the form of Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel.
The Congress high-command has not been able to deal with Amarinder Singh and now Bhupesh Baghel is aggressively promoting his brand name at the cost of the Gandhi family.
After the Congress ecosystem lambasted the Modi government for having PM Modi’s photo on the vaccination certificates, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel replaced PM Modi’s photo with his own photo in the state’s vaccination certificates.
Baghel could have displayed the face of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi, or even his face along with any of them, but he chose to display only his face on the vaccination certificates. However, this is not the first time that Baghel has sidelined the Gandhi family.
When the Congress won elections in three states – MP and Rajasthan – the Gandhi family chose loyalists like Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot over Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot as the CMs of those states. The Gandhi family was able to pull this off despite the fact that Rahul Gandhi having no role in the victory of Congress but in Chhattisgarh, it could not succeed in the appointment of long time family loyalist T S Singh Deo for the CM chair as a majority of elected MLAs were in favour of Bhupesh Baghel.
Even Baghel’s favourable approach towards the construction of Ram Mandir did not go well with the Congress high-command but he did not give two hoots about their opinion. In fact, in December last year, on completion of two years of his government, the Chhattisgarh government organised a four-day-long ‘Ram Van Gaman Paripath Paryatan Rath Yatra’, which passed through the places where Bhagwan Ram took abode during His exile and ended at Chandkhuri’s Kaushalya Temple, where the state government ministers proclaimed their devotion to Bhagwan Ram.
Also, the state tourist department organised a big event at Kaushalya temple which indicates that the Baghel government is trying to promote religious tourism in the state.
In the last two and a half years, Baghel has successfully sidelined other contenders for the CM face like TS Singh Deo, Tamradhwaj Sahu, and Charan Das Mahant, overshadowing them in the Chhattisgarh government. He has even faced factionalism just like Amarinder Singh but given his popularity and the hold over the OBC voters, he has been successful in showing the other leaders their place in the administration.
Baghel, who takes a different stance than the Congress party over many ideological issues like Ram Mandir, dealing with Naxals and Nationalism just like Amarinder Singh, is emerging as the next big problem for the Gandhi family whose leadership is already being questioned by the G-23 and many other leaders of the Congress party. Given the fact that Bhupesh Baghel is an efficient administrator and only 59 years old, he might even choose to challenge the leadership of the Gandhi family in the coming years.