Chhattisgarh's Bhupesh Baghel Gets UP Elections Role Amid Congress Tumult

Speculation about a possible change of guard in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh after Punjab has intensified over the last few days.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said there was no political crisis in the state.

New Delhi:

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel was made a senior observer for next year's Uttar Pradesh assembly elections by the Congress on Saturday amid turmoil in the party over the top job in his state.

Mr Baghel, who had played a crucial role in the Assam assembly elections with his team carrying out extensive booth training of party workers, has in the past discussed the preparations for the elections in UP with Congress general secretary in-charge Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

"The Congress president has appointed Shri Bhupesh Bhagel, chief minister, Chhattisgarh, as AICC senior observer for the ensuing elections in Uttar Pradesh, with immediate effect," the Congress said in a statement.

Speculation about a possible change of guard in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh after Punjab has intensified over the last three days after two dozen party MLAs, considered close to Nr Baghel, flew to Delhi in a possible move to thwart a switch.

While the purpose of their trip was not announced, some party sources said the MLAs were visiting the national capital to express solidarity with Mr Baghel.

The Chief Minister had said on Thursday that the visit by Congress MLAs to Delhi should not be seen through the prism of politics.

When asked on Saturday about the MLAs' trip to Delhi, Mr Baghel said, there is no ban on the legislators from going somewhere and they are independent.

"It is not a political movement. You ask if it is a political movement. They will visit and return," he added.

Health Minister T S Singh Deo, who has been reportedly seeking to replace Mr Baghel, too, played down the visit by MLAs to Delhi as he had said it should not be made an issue.

About the possible leadership change, Mr Singh Deo had reiterated that the decision is reserved with the party high command.

Brihaspat Singh, who is among the legislators who were in Delhi, had said on Wednesday that 15 to 16 party legislators were in Delhi to meet PL Punia ahead of Rahul Gandhi's proposed tour of the state. Mr Singh is considered to be close to Mr Baghel.

The buzz about a possible leadership change flared after Mr Baghel completed two-and-a-half years as Chief Minister in June 2021. The Singh Deo camp claimed the top Congress leadership in 2018 had agreed to hand over the Chief Minister's post to him after the government completed half its term.

(With inputs from PTI)