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Congress core panel to check infighting in Chhattisgarh ahead of state polls

State unit chief Bhupesh Baghel is at the centre of the latest squabble in the Chhattisgarh Congress.

chhattisgarh elections 2018 Updated: Oct 13, 2018 09:08 IST
Ritesh Mishra
Ritesh Mishra
Hindustan Times, Raipur
Chhattisgarh,Congress,Bhupesh Baghel
Congress president Rahul Gandhi waves at supporters during Jungle Satyagraha Adivasi Rally at Pendra in Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh. (HT Photo )

Infighting among senior Chhattisgarh Congress leaders is making the situation difficult for the party in the two-phase November assembly elections, causing the party high command to form a ‘core committee’ to keep a check on state unit chief Bhupesh Baghel who, too, is part of the panel.

Baghel is at the centre of the latest squabble in the state Congress. He was recently released on bail in a case involving a morphed sleaze CD that contained a purported clip of a Chhattisgarh minister. Baghel was again in the news after a news channel aired a video clip on October 2 in which a party leader was heard talking to Baghel about a “CD of PL Punia” and bargaining for two seats. Punia, who is the All India Congress Committee in-charge of Chhattisgarh, did not respond to phone calls and a text message.

The two episodes precede polls to the 90-member state assembly due on November 12 and 20 in which the Congress is seeking to end the 15-year tenure of the BJP. Surfacing of the CDs hurt Chhattisgarh Congress politically.

After the CD was released on social media, senior leaders of Congress in Chhattisgarh voiced their concerns against Baghel. The top brass of the state Congress united against him. On October 4, about a dozen senior leaders of Chhattisgarh were summoned to Delhi, where in front of Congress central leaders, they opposed Baghel. The Congress on Thursday announced the formation of a core committee to manage the party’s functioning. The panel comprises all senior Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh.

“The core committee has been set up to put a check on Baghel...,” said a senior Congress leader.

Baghel claimed the perceived infighting was BJP propaganda. “Chief minister Raman Singh is himself spreading these kind of rumours because he knows he is losing this election,” he said.

Chhattisgarh BJP spokesperson Sacchinand Upasane said infighting within the state unit of the Congress was a fact. Political commentator Ashok Tomar said it was a fact Baghel was ignoring senior Congress leaders in the state and was perceived to be “arrogant”.

First Published: Oct 13, 2018 09:04 IST