A day after Chhattisgarh leader Mahendra Karma’s ashes were immersed in the presence of senior Congress leaders from Uttar Pradesh in Allahabad, the party appointed Union Minister Charan Das Mahant acting president of the PCC — replacing Nand Kumar Patel, who was also killed by the Maoists recently — and former State Minister Bhupesh Baghel vice president.

For the Congress, whose top leadership was wiped out in the carnage in Chhattisgarh on May 25, homage to the party’s “martyrs” will be a key element in the party’s strategy, to focus on the failure of the BJP-led Raman Singh government to provide security to its leaders participating in the Parivartan Yatra. Senior leader Motilal Vora went to Rajnandgaon to deliver a condolence letter from Congress president Sonia Gandhi to the family of slain former MLA Uday Mudaliar.

And if the entire Congress Legislature Party (CLP) offered to resign their seats en masse on Sunday to force dissolution of the House and precipitate elections six months ahead of time, the party has decided to hold shradhanjali sabhas at all district headquarters on June 6, and at block headquarters on June 7. The Parivartan Yatras will also be resumed shortly. Last week, the Congress boycotted the all-party meeting called by Mr. Raman Singh.

Interestingly, both Mr. Mahant, a kabirpanthi, and Mr. Baghel, a Kurmi, are OBCs in a State that was carved out for tribals. Mr. Mahant will continue for the present as a Central Minister, party sources said: with this appointment, he will become the face of the party in the State.