While the fight between Captain Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu is still far from over, Congress high commands have got another rift on its hand. This time, the infighting is in its stronghold Chhattisgarh. Congress government in Chhattisgarh is at the point where it is either make or break for them now.
With the completion of two and half years by the Chhattisgarh Congress government, the demand for a new chief minister has picked up momentum. Chief Minister Bhupesh Singh Baghel and health minister T S Singh Deo are all set to meet Rahul Gandhi on 24, August 2021. It is also speculated that P L Punia, the state in charge of Chhattisgarh Congress and All India Congress Committee general secretary KC Venugopal will also hold a separate meeting with Baghel and Singh Deo. “After a long time, I am going to Delhi… The meeting is with Rahul Gandhi. There will also be a meeting with AICC general secretary KC Venugopal and the state’s in-charge P L Punia,”. Asked about any meeting with senior leaders, Singh Deo expressed anonymity. “Punia Ji is the person entrusted with this. He is in touch with the high command. It’s for him to convey. We are waiting for his message. I have informed Punia Ji that I am in Delhi and I suppose we will be told in the morning (about a meeting),” Singh Deo said.
Chhattisgarh Congress Government was formed in the 2018 assembly elections, after 15 years of struggle by the party. Even at the time of winning, the Chhattisgarh Congress was divided into two factions, one was led by current chief minister Bhupesh Singh Baghel, while another was led by state health minister T S Singh Deo. Bhupesh Singh Baghel represents OBCs who are numerically superior in the state, while T S Singh Deo has a lot of support from Congress Party workers involved on the ground. In fact, T S Singh has an image of a hardworking and honest leader. He holds so much in-depth knowledge of the ground reality of the state, that he was given the responsibility of making a Congress manifesto for the assembly elections. Bhupesh Singh Baghel on the other hand is known for being loyal to the royal Gandhi family of the Congress Party. While dividing the portfolio, it was decided that five years of the Congress rule will be divided into two and half years each of Bhupesh Singh Baghel and T S Deo Singh.
Read more: Gangs of Congress Chhattisgarh: Now Deo and Baghel ‘gangs’ are physically attacking each other
With the government finishing its half of the term in June 2021, there was no whispering of handing over the post of Chief Minister to T S Singh Deo. This infuriated the supporters of Deo and the fight broke out in the open. TS Singh Deo and Baghel have differences on many contentious issues. Last month a Congress MLA accused Singh Deo of sponsoring an attack on him, just because he supported Baghel. The health secretary working under Deo has been changed multiple times by Baghel, infuriating Deo in the process. Deo and Baghel have also clashed over the proposed Lemru Elephant Reserve, and over committees to frame laws under the PESA (Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas Act) for tribal areas. The credit for brilliant COVID management by Health minister Deo was also taken up by chief minister Baghel.
If Congress decides to retain Baghel, then it is entirely possible that TS Singh Deo who holds a huge presence on the ground will take away his faction from the Government. In that scenario, BJP is set to come back by forming a coalition with Mr Deo. If Congress decides to replace Baghel with Deo, then it will send Baghel to Uttar Pradesh elections, where the probability of Congress winning elections is next to zero, which in turn will throw Baghel into oblivion