Bhupesh Baghel appointed party’s senior observer for U.P. elections

His team sees this as the final seal on Chhattisgarh chief ministership speculation

Published - October 02, 2021 06:55 pm IST - New Delhi

File photo of Bhupesh Baghel.

File photo of Bhupesh Baghel.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel was appointed as senior observer for Congress ahead of the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Team Baghel believes that this for once and all settles the question of Mr. Baghel’s continuation in the Chief Minister’s chair.

State Health Minister T.S. Singh Deo had staked claim for the CM’s post invoking a promise made in 2018 by then party president Rahul Gandhi agreeing to a rotational tenure between him and Mr. Baghel. As per the arrangement, the Chief Minister’s post was supposed to go to him on June 18, the halfway mark of five-year tenure of the government.

Not a bolt from the blue

The appointment though is not a bolt from the blue. Mr. Baghel, who recently played an active role as a senior observer ahead of the Assam Assembly elections, was widely expected to be roped in Uttar Pradesh too. His close associate Rajesh Tiwari was appointed as the AICC secretary in the State assisting general secretary in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Mr. Baghel’s political advisor Vinod Verma has also been stationed in U.P. for more than one month now.

“The Congress needs an OBC face, specifically a Kurmi leader. Mr. Baghel fits in that role. His appointment sends a clear message that the party values him,” a senior leader close to Mr. Baghel said.

The timing of the appointment is equally significant for Team Baghel. On August 27, at the end of a four-hour long meeting with former party president Rahul Gandhi, Mr. Baghel had announced that Mr. Gandhi would be visiting Chhattisgarh. His impending visit had started to be seen as a stock taking exercise to weigh in on the question of Mr. Baghel vs Mr. Singh Deo. So far, Mr. Gandhi’s office has not decided any date for the visit.

“The fact that the appointment comes before his visit clearly shows the trust he and the leadership bestows on the Chief Minister,” the leader said.

No comment was forthcoming immediately from Mr. Singh Deo on this development.

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