Four days after winning a decisive victory in Chhattisgarh, the Congress on Saturday failed to announce the next Chief Minister of the State, with hectic lobbying by supporters of each contender going on in Raipur and in Delhi.
The decision is now expected to he announced at a meeting of all 68 Congress MLAs-elect at 4 p.m. in Raipur on Sunday.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted a picture with State leaders T.S. Singh Deo, Tamradhwaj Sahu, Bhupesh Bhagel and Charan Das Mahant, with a quote from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman: “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.”
Mr. Gandhi met all the four leaders, individually and together. At least three rounds of discussions have taken place. The Congress’s Central observer Mallikarjun Kharge, and Chhattisgarh party affairs in-charge P. L. Punia were present at the meeting.
Sources said Mr. Gandhi’s mother and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, and sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, were present at the meeting at his residence.
Sources says that a section of the Delhi leadership is firmly backing Tamradhwaj Sahu
Mr. Sahu, who was the lone Congress candidate to win the 2014 Lok Sabha election in the State, was asked to fight the Assembly polls to keep him in contention for the top post. According to insiders, on Saturday, Mr. Kharge proposed Mr. Sahu’s name, but Mr. Bhagel, Mr. Deo and Mr. Mahant stoutly opposed it. They question Mr. Sahu’s contribution to the victory.
Both Mr. Bhagel and Mr. Deo are evenly poised in terms of commanding support from cadre in the State. In Raipur, their supporters thronged their residences in a show of strength.
The Central leadership has made it clear that with such a clear mandate, no individual candidate is left with a bargaining card. The decision, according to sources, will be made keeping in mind the Lok Sabha polls, just six months away. In previous three Lok Sabha polls, Chhattisgarh has handed out 10 of its 11 seats to the BJP, which was ruling the State. The Congress wants to ensure that this trend continues.