Chhattisgarh Congress face in Lok Sabha is minister | india | Hindustan Times
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Chhattisgarh Congress face in Lok Sabha is minister

Charan Das Mahant, the new minister of state for agriculture and food processing industries, is the lone Lok Sabha member of the Congress from Chhattisgarh.

india Updated: Jul 12, 2011 14:36 IST

Charan Das Mahant, the new minister of state for agriculture and food processing industries, is the lone Lok Sabha member of the Congress from Chhattisgarh.

The 57-year-old was born in Janjgir-Champa district and belongs to the other backward class (OBC) that makes up roughly 50% of the state's 2.55 crore population.

"He is a shy politician but finally realised his dream as a minister in the central government," said a Congress legislator who is Mahant's diehard supporter.

A Ph.D, Mahant won the Korba Lok Sabha seat in 2009, defeating Karuna Shukla, niece of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and a powerful face of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Party insiders claim that Mahant has been made a minister with a view to luring OBC voters who have moved away from the party since 2003 when the Congress suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the BJP.

Mahant, known as a strong critic of former chief minister Ajit Jogi, has considerable influence in the Janjgir-Champa and Korba districts but lacks a hold in the remaining 16 other districts.

He has been in active politics for nearly three decades. He was first elected to undivided Madhya Pradesh assembly in 1980. He became the Chhattisgarh Congress president in 2006 and served till 2008.

But party leaders say this stint was highly disappointing. Party morale went down as he failed to contain either intra-party rivalry or the rising hold of the BJP.

Chhattisgarh has 11 Lok Sabha members.