NAGPUR, Maharashtra – Days before the final list of candidates for Congress was announced earlier this month for the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections, a Congress candidate asked the party to change its seat.
The seat, this candidate was applying for, was a high-profile and competitive seat compared to the easier one he had been assigned. But the Congress leadership agreed to his request.
However, shortly before this list of candidates was formally declared, the candidate, an important member of Congress familiar with the matter, told HuffPost India, received a call from the President of the Chhattisgarh Congress, Bhupesh Baghel, who asked him not to I will take a seat.
The candidate was baffled, but told Baghel he will do what the party will ask him to do.
This did not reassure Baghel, who called the candidate back and asked him to write to the party’s central management to reject this particular seat.
The candidate objected and turned off his phone, fearing more pressure. This candidate’s phone went off for two days and those who wanted to contact him had to send a car and a driver to relay his messages.
The candidate finally competed from his elected seat against a minister in the Raman Singh cabinet. But going back and forth with Baghel over the ticket selection is an illustration of how the internal struggle within the ranks continues to affect Congress, hurting it in an election in which the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party faces widespread disaffection after three periods consecutive in power, and The opposition has a clear possibility of winning.
While Baghel did not respond to repeated requests for comment, Shailesh Nitin Trivedi, head of the congressional communication department in Chhattisgarh, denied any break between Baghel and other party leaders.
“Bhupesh Baghel has damaged the duo Raman Singh-Jogi correctly, he has fought them tooth and nail,” said Trivedi. “Raman Singh and his ally Jogi do not like Bhupesh Baghel, that’s why they’ve been spreading this kind of false stories, there’s no truth in that.”
However, with the completion of the campaign, the full vote and the state awaiting the results of the elections on December 11 this year, the main leaders of the congress have expressed concern that Baghel has sabotaged his own party.
The rupture between Baghel, the president of the state party and the rest of the party leaders, backed by the high command of the Congress in Delhi, was not limited to a single seat.
“The party was ready to give up some seats (to the side bench of Baghel) and most of the candidates suggested by Baghel were denied tickets and flew to Delhi when they learned that their recommended candidates might not get tickets,” said one high congressman He said. “He even threatened to resign when the Dhamatari candidate (segment of the assembly) was not granted according to his wish, things were not right, the main criteria was the possibility of winning, but the candidates, he was suggesting, were not really up to it. ”
In September this year, Baghel was briefly imprisoned for allegedly conspiring with a journalist to circulate a false pornographic video of BJP state PWD minister Rajesh Munat. Baghel was jailed after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a charge sheet alleging that the BJP leader, Kailash Murarka, ordered the CD in 2017, and handed it to Baghel to circulate. .
A few days after being released from jail on bail, another unverified video clip was sent to local television channels, this time from Baghel allegedly asking a local repairman for a pornographic video clip that involves his own colleague of Congress and Secretary General of the Congress in charge PL Punia, in exchange for giving the repairman tickets for the Congress to play two seats in the next state elections.
Subsequent unverified clips showed Baghel allegedly discussing making compromising video clips of other top congressional leaders. In October, Baghel told the Hindustan Times that all of these alleged video recordings were part of a cleverness crafted by BJP and Chief Minister Raman Singh.
However, Baghel’s participation, although tangential, annoyed the central and state congressional unit, since the alleged talks gave the impression that Baghel did not want anyone else to be in the main ministerial career, except himself.
“Many state supporters went to Delhi to complain about Baghel to the central leadership, but the central leadership did not want to risk alienating the votes of OBC Kurmi (the community of Baghel) by eliminating him as president of the state,” said another congressional leader. to HuffPost. India.
On October 12, Congress announced the formation of a panel composed of top congressional leaders to manage ticket distribution and campaigning, but the party said the panel intended to reduce Baghel’s powers.
The person most affected by the disclosure of these conversations was T.S Singh Deo, the opposition leader of Congress.
“He was absolutely dejected.” Since Baghel became the head of the state unit, Singh Deo has always projected him as a leader, and a couple of years ago he even announced in Patan (the consistency of the Baghel assembly) that Baghel will be the leader. principal ministerial candidate, “he added. The leader of the Sarguja Congress reported. “Now they talk to each other just for the sake of formality.” The camaraderie witnessed over the past four years is gone because of Baghel.
Trivedi, the head of the congressional communication department in Chhattisgarh and considered close to Baghel, also joined Baghel’s problems filtering the Congress manifesto to a local news channel, hours before Rahul Gandhi was to launch it.
When a reporter from another channel opposed this, the manifesto was shared in a WhatsApp media group of the party.
It was removed in a matter of minutes, but many members of that group had already downloaded it.
Some members of Congress expressed sadness over the loss of Baghel, but said it was inevitable.
“He worked hard, there is no doubt about it, he confronted Jogi and kept the relevant Congress in the state, but by incurring such tactics (sex CD and conspiracy in the distribution of tickets), he damaged his position and is beyond the repair now, the leadership of the Congress is aware of all this, “said a former congressional spokesman.