Tamradhwaj Sahu(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Tamradhwaj Sahu(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

In Chhattisgarh: Tamradhwaj Sahu is front-runner for chief minister

In Chhattisgarh, the Congress has a problem of plenty when it comes to chief ministerial candidates. But among all of them, one name stands out - that of Tamradhwaj Sahu.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON DEC 12, 2018 05:38 PM IST

In Chhattisgarh, the Congress has a problem of plenty when it comes to chief ministerial candidates. But among all of them, one name stands out - that of Tamradhwaj Sahu.

Till a year ago, no one had expected Sahu, the only Congress Lok Sabha MP in the state, to be in the race for the top post considering that the party was spoiled for choice from among a list of other prominent leaders such as the party’s state chief Bhupesh Baghel, Leader of Opposition TS Singhdeo and former union minister Charandas Mahant.

Earlier this year, Tamradhwaj Sahu, who hails from the influential Sahu backward community which accounts for nearly 14% of the state’s population, was appointed as chairman of AICC’s OBC cell.

Since then he has been engaged in mobilising the state’s backward community voters in favour of the Congress. These voters were believed to have shifted to the BJP in the last elections.

Also read | Congress to pick Chhattisgarh CM on Wednesday

Though, Baghel and Mahant too hail from the OBC community but Sahu’s non-controversial and clean image have put among the front-runners for the top post in Chhattisgarh.

Born on August 6, 1949, to a farmer’s family in village Patora of Durg district, Sahu did his schooling in Durg.

He was forced to drop out of graduation at the Science College, Durg, after his maternal grandfather died.

Sahu became interested in politics at the young age of 26 when he was elected as president of Navyuak Mandal in his village in 1975. In the same year, he was elected as panch in Pauwara gram panchayat. Then the village Sarpanch, Parmeshwar Dau, impressed by Sahu’s work, resigned from the post to facilitate his elevation as village head.

During the same time, he joined the Congress as a worker and gradually rose through the party ranks. In 1977, he was made head of the block Congress in Durg.

His tryst with electoral politics started in the late 1990s, when he was first elected as an MLA in 1998 from Dhamdha constituency in erstwhile Madhya Pradesh. He was elected as an MLA twice again - in 2003 and 2008 from Dhamdha and Bemetara seats, respectively.

Read | Chhattisgarh Election 2018: State Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel credits Rahul Gandhi for poll victory

Sahu served as a cabinet minister under when Ajit Jogi was chief minister from 2000 to 2003 after the state was formed and Congress was in power in the state.

However, Sahu lost to BJP’s Awdhesh Chandel from Bemetara seat in 2013 assembly election following which he contested from the Durg Lok Sabha seat in 2014 against BJP’s prominent woman leader and then MP Saroj Pandey.

He defeated Pandey by a margin of 16,848 votes and subsequently emerged as a prominent leader of the party in the state.

He was made AICC OBC cell chairperson and in July this year, he was inducted as a member of Congress Working Committee (CWC).

The party had earlier nominated former MLA Pratima Chandrakar from the Durg Rural seat in Durg district. But sources say, Congress president Rahul himself decided to field Tamrdhwaj Sahu from the Durg rural seat giving an indication that he could be picked up for the top post if the party wins the election.

Also read | How Congress led by Rahul Gandhi turned the party around in 3 states

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