Along with Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the Congress has registered a landslide victory in the tribal state of Chhattisgarh also in the assembly elections held recently – with 68 out of 90 seats. However, the party has to face several challenges now, and picking up the chief minister face is not going to be an easy task for the party high-ups.
Tamradhwaj Sahu, TS Singh Deo and Bhupesh Baghel are the frontrunners for the post of the chief minister in the state.
According to the party sources, a meeting has been fixed at 8 pm on Wednesday, and it will be chaired by Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the observer of All India Congress Committee. Kharge, as per close sources, will be reaching the Raipur Congress headquarters at around 7 pm, and then will meet the state party in-charge P L Punia and other senior leaders.
According to a party insider, Kharge has discussed the issue of picking up the CM candidate with Congress top brass, and he is being sent to Raipur to seek the opinion of elected MLAs of the party.
“There is no doubt that the final decision will be taken by Rahul Gandhi ji, but it’s important to sense the mood of the MLAs who have won from their respective constituencies because the party will not hurt the sentiments of the party workers who have made this possible. There may be someone in Rahul Ji’s mind, but it can be changed on the basis of the outcome of the meeting,” the party insider told Newsclick. He confirmed that Baghel, Deo and Sahu are the frontrunners for the post, and the media should wait for the final call.
One of the strongest faces in the race for CM is Bhupesh Baghel. Baghel believes in making the cadre strong, and keeping the cadre happy. He took over the party when Congress lost its entire leadership in the Naxal attack of Jhiram Ghati in May 2013.
Being the party chief was not at all a cakewalk for Baghel, and there should not be any hesitation in saying that he worked day and night to keep the morale of Congress cadre high in order to revive the party.
The Congress had lost its state chief Nandkumar Patel, senior leader VC Shukla, and very big tribal leader Mahendra Karma in the Jhiram Ghati massacre.
Baghel was also known for his assertive approach while he was in the opposition. He even faced a few cases along with his family members, and had to go to jail once.
T S Singh Deo
T S Singh Deo, who is fondly known as Baba, comes from the royal family of Ambikapur, and is known for his very clean image.
Deo is one of the richest candidates of the Congress with a declared wealth of Rs 500 crores. Deo, the very soft-spoken and media-friendly leader, was given the responsibility of the position of Leader of Opposition in the state assembly where he continued his vitriolic attacks on the BJP government.
Deo was also given the responsibility of making the party’s manifesto for which he reportedly did a lot of research on the ground.
It is to be noted that the promise of loan waiver to the farmers did wonders for the Congress in Chhattisgarh, and it was his idea.
Sahu is an OBC leader. He holds a very strong grip on the OBC vote bank of the state. Sahu is also known for working on the ground, and maintaining a good relation with the party workers. He is one of the very humble, down to earth and soft-spoken leaders of the Congress in Chhattisgarh.
(Author's views are personal.)