Congress legislator Mohan Markham was appointed as the head of the party's Chhattisgarh unit today, replacing Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. The move comes at a time when the Congress is still coming to terms with its disastrous showing in the recent Lok Sabha elections, following which party president Rahul Gandhi announced his decision to resign from the top post.
The Congress could win only two Lok Sabha seats in Chhattisgarh, despite pulling off an emphatic win against the BJP in the assembly elections held late last year.
Incidentally, the letter announcing the change in state party leadership stuck a different note from a factor that seemed to have become the standard practice after the Congress' debacle in the general elections. Previous press statements on the dissolution of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee and Uttar Pradesh Congress district committees had explicitly mentioned that the decisions were "approved by the AICC". However, for the first time since the election results were announced on May 23, today's release stated that the "Congress president has approved the appointment of Mohan Markham as the president of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee".
However, there was no official word from the Congress party on the possibility of Rahul Gandhi continuing as the party chief.
The appointment of Kondagaon legislator Mohan Markham as the Chhattisgarh party chief came nearly a week after Bhupesh Baghel asked Rahul Gandhi to divest him of the responsibility, given that he had his "hands full" with chief ministerial duties. Bhupesh Baghel had led the Congress to an emphatic win in the December assembly polls, dislodging the Raman Singh government by winning 68 of the state's 90 seats.
(With inputs from PTI)