The Congress high command seems to be underestimating Chhattisgarh Chief Minister and powerful OBC leader Bhupesh Baghel, who single-handedly steered the grand old party in late 2018 to return to power in the mining state after a decade-and-half of BJP rule.
The OBC community makes up roughly half of the state’s estimated 2.75 crore population and Baghel is the undisputed leader of the community.
There is a wider perception in Chhattisgarh that the top Congress leadership is underestimating a seasoned politician like Bhupesh Baghel based on ‘misleading inputs’ from a bunch of persons with vested interest and a few major mining players.
It will certainly be a monumental mistake of the Congress’ central leadership if it replaces Baghel as the Chief Minister. Congress workers in Chhattisgarh are hoping that better sense will prevail in Delhi and the party high-command will not hurt ‘Chhattisgarhia’s’ pride, which Baghel symbolises.
Bhupesh Baghel has clear backing of at least 55 MLAs who could go to any extent if the party high-command ignores their wishes. Congress has 70 MLAs in the 90-member state Assembly.
The scion of the Surguja royal family, T.S. Singh Deo, allegedly backed by a major mining company, is pushing hard in his bid to replace Baghel, claiming that he was promised in late 2018 that he would succeed Baghel after the latter completes his two-and-half-year term.
Analysts in Chhattisgarh have been surprised at the way the Congress high-command is attempting to handle the entire episode, as Singh Deo lacks acceptability among the party cadres and appeal in masses.
Majority of the Congress MLAs say “what is the need to create a political uncertainty” in the state when Baghel is performing “exceptionally well” and the Congress high-command too has acknowledged it publicly.
Analysts also claim that the Congress high-command needs to read the writing on the wall and should not commit suicide in Chhattisgarh.
If Bhupesh Baghel is replaced, the dominant OBC community in Chhattisgarh will never accept the humiliation and the party might have to wait for another 15 years to explore chances of making a comeback in the mineral-rich state.