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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Bhupesh Baghel, Singh Deo thrash it out at meeting with Rahul Gandhi, no call on CM rotation yet

Baghel and Singh Deo blamed each other for pushing the government into turmoil over the rotational chief ministership issue.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: August 25, 2021 12:30:19 pm
Baghel and Singh Deo with Punia after their meeting at Rahul Gandhi’s residence on Tuesday. (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Stepping in to resolve the power tussle in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, senior party leader Rahul Gandhi met Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and state Health Minister T S Singh Deo on Tuesday. No final decision was, however, taken on handing over the mantle to Singh Deo for the balance of the party’s five-year tenure in the state.

Party sources said splitting the five-year tenure was discussed between Rahul Gandhi, Singh Deo and Baghel ahead of the decision taken by the Congress leadership to name Baghel as the CM in mid-December 2018.

According to party sources, Rahul’s meetings with the two leaders – together and separately – on Monday at his residence lasted nearly three hours. AICC leader in charge of Chhattisgarh, P L Punia, and General Secretary (Organisation) K C Venugopal also attended the meeting.

Baghel and Singh Deo blamed each other for pushing the government into turmoil over the rotational chief ministership issue.

Both of them are likely to stay in Delhi for a couple more days, and more meetings are expected. The views of Congress President Sonia Gandhi will also be taken before a final decision, sources said.

While Punia said the issue of leadership change was not discussed, sources said it was the central point of the discussions, with both Baghel and Singh Deo putting forth their views. The Chief Minister, sources said, has been told to consider the proposal.

Punia told reporters that issues related to governance and development were discussed during their meeting. He denied the leadership issue being discussed.

Asked about the rotational chief ministership issue, he said: “There was speculation about it in the media. There was no discussion on that.” Asked whether Baghel will remain the Chief Minister, he said, “He is the Chief Minister.”

Baghel said the discussion was about various programmes of the government; Singh Deo too said the discussion was on the development of the state.

Baghel and Singh Deo have been at loggerheads for some time, with sources close to the latter claiming that the party leadership, at the time of the election victory in 2018, had agreed to splitting the five-year term under the leadership of Baghel and Singh Deo. Baghel has publicly denied any such agreement.

“Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are our leaders and we will abide by whatever they say,” Singh Deo told reporters before the meeting. Baghel also said the leadership’s decision would be followed.

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