Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Wednesday said Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have entrusted him with the responsibility of running the state and that he will quit the moment they ask him to do so.
Upon his return to Raipur, a day after meeting Rahul Gandhi in Delhi, Mr Baghel said that those seeking a rotation of the chief minister's post are creating political instability in the state.
Mr Baghel arrived at the Raipur airport to a rousing reception by a massive crowd of supporters, displaying a show of strength.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Chhattisgarh Health Minister TS Singh Deo on Wednesday morning separately met All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary KC Venugopal amid an ongoing power tussle between them.
Mr Bhagel and TS Singh Deo held consultations with KC Venugopal over the alleged differences between them, besides discussing development issues related to Chhattisgarh, sources said.
The two Chhattisgarh Congress leaders are likely to hold further deliberations with the AICC leadership soon, they added.
"I have said in the past that when the high command orders, I will quit the post. No one should have any doubt. Those who are talking about two and a half years, they are trying to bring political instability and they will never succeed," Mr Bhagel told reporters at the airport.
"As far as the incumbent state government is concerned, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have entrusted the responsibility to a farmer like me. I am happy about it. This government is of farmers, tribals, labourers and 2.8 crore people of the state. The government is functioning well," he said.
Mr Deo has claimed that according to an agreement made after the Congress came to power in Chhattisgarh in 2018, he should have got the chief minister's post after 2.5 years. Mr Bhagel has denied the claim.
According to sources in the Congress, the differences between Bhupesh Baghel and his rival, TS Singh Deo, will be resolved soon.
Earlier at the airport, slogans such as "Chhattisgarh ada hua hai, CM Bhupesh Baghel ke sang khada hua hain" (Chhattisgarh is adamant, it is standing with Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel) were raised by his supporters as he arrived.
Bhupesh Bhagel said he met Rahul Gandhi, party general secretary KC Venugopal and Congress' Chhattisgarh in-charge PL Punia and held discussions on the "state government's schemes, development and political situation" and "they were apprised of the situation in Chhattisgarh".
"Punia ji has already clarified (about the rumours of leadership change). After his statement, is there anything more left to be said?" the chief minister asked.
After Rahul Gandhi's meetings with Bhupesh Baghel and TS Singh Deo in Delhi on Tuesday, Mr Punia had told reporters that they discussed development issues and not the leadership change.
Asked about opposition BJP's demand for clarification on the issue of rotation of the chief minister's post, Mr Baghel said it is worried because there is a "farmers' government" in Chhattisgarh.
"The son of a farmer is the chief minister, whom they (BJP) consider their biggest challenge... The BJP has no answer to the culture of Chhattisgarh," he said.
The BJP was in power from 2003 to 2018, but now it is reduced to 14 seats in the 90-member state assembly, he said.
Asked about the slogans in his favour at the airport, Bhupesh Baghel said everyone was raising slogans in favour of "Sonia ji, Rahul ji and the Congress party".
When the Congress opted for Bhupesh Baghel for the top post following its victory in the 2018 assembly polls, there was speculation that TS Singh Deo, another contender in the fray, would be allowed to take over mid term.
Bhupesh Baghel completed two and a half years in office in June 2021.