The Congress on Sunday announced that Bhupesh Baghel will take over as Chhattisgarh chief minister after several meetings between the party's leaders and cadre. Speculation about the Congress' pick for the post was rife after the party won the Assembly elections on 11 December as former leader of Opposition TS Singh Deo, and Congress leaders Tamardhwaj Sahu and Charan Das Mahant were also likely candidates.
President of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee (CPCC) since 2014, Baghel emerged as a strong contender after Congress president Rahul Gandhi's referendum on the party's 'Shakti' app.
A backward class leader (Kurmi), the 57-year-old served as a minister in both Digvijaya Singh and Ajit Jogi's cabinets in undivided Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Active in social reform works, Baghel toured Chhattisgarh on foot before the elections and revived the Congress at the organisational level after a Maoist attack wiped out the top leadership in 2013.
With the creation of Chhattisgarh in 2000, Baghel became the first Minister for Revenue, Public Health Engineering and relief work. He has strong organisational skills and is a more grassroots party worker in comparison to the other chief ministerial candidate, TS Singh Deo. He actively campaigned across Chhattisgarh this election.
Baghel, belonging to a farming family, began his political career as part of the Indian Youth Congress in 1986. In 1990, he became president and was elected as the MLA of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly in 1993.
However, according to a Firstpost report, Baghel's leadership style is not acceptable to many workers in the faction-ridden party. Baghel was also embroiled in controversy over his alleged involvement in a fake sex CD case involving a senior minister in the Raman Singh government ahead of the election. A special CBI court sent him to 14-day judicial custody in the case.
According to reports, Baghel rejected all the charges, and also refused to appoint a lawyer in defence. He had said, "I am innocent. The government is implicating me after black flag demonstration. People will reply to this case."
Updated Date: Dec 16, 2018 23:50:55 IST