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Congress denies ‘power struggle’ between top party officials in poll-bound Chhattisgarh

A senior state Congress functionary said relations between the two leaders, who disagreed earlier on ticket selection, deteriorated last month after a local news channel aired an audio clip on October 2 where a party leader was purportedly heard bargaining for seats.

chhattisgarh elections 2018 Updated: Nov 02, 2018 13:49 IST
Ritesh Mishra
Ritesh Mishra
Hindustan Times, Raipur
Chhattisgarh Election 2018,Chhattisgarh Election 2018 News,Chhattisgarh Constituency
Congress President Rahul Gandhi with other party leaders at a rally in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, on May 17, 2018. Gandhi called a meeting on October 5 to resolve the reported tussle between state party president Bhupesh Baghel and general secretary in-charge PL Punia ahead of assembly elections in the state. (HT File )

A reported tussle between state Congress president Bhupesh Baghel and general secretary in-charge PL Punia is dogging the party in poll-bound Chhattisgarh.

A senior state Congress functionary said relations between the two leaders, who disagreed earlier on ticket selection, deteriorated last month after a local news channel aired an audio clip on October 2 where a party leader was purportedly heard bargaining for seats.

The controversy caused an uproar in the state unit with leaders loyal to Baghel and Punia blaming the other camp for the row. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi called a meeting on October 5 to resolve the dispute and formed a core committee to steer poll strategy. Chhattisgarh goes to the polls in two phases on November 12 and 20.

A senior Congress leader who did not wished to be named said the disagreement between Baghel and Punia had grown because of a dispute over who would have a larger say in day-to-day affairs of the Congress. “The rift has become wide now,” said the leader.

Neither Baghel nor Punia were immediately available for comment.

The Congress denied there was any rift between Baghel and Punia. “The BJP is losing Chhattisgarh and this is part of propaganda. There is no rift between Baghel and Punia and both are working to strengthen the party,” said senior leader and spokesperson RP Singh.

Congress communication head, Randeep Singh Surjewala, also said on Thursday that there was nothing between Baghel and Punia and that it was propaganda created by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Chhattisgarh BJP spokesperson Sacchinand Upasane said everyone knew what was happening in the Congress. “All the leaders of Congress party including Punia and Baghel are fighting for their own existence,” Upasane added.

First Published: Nov 02, 2018 13:47 IST