T S Singh Deo, the political rival of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, has been appointed as his deputy ahead of the state elections scheduled for the end of the year.
The decision to appoint T S Singh Deo as Chattisgarh deputy CM was taken in a meeting held at the Congress headquarters on Wednesday (28 June).
Later in the evening, the party announced the appointment, putting an end to the speculation about a change in the top post. In a statement, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal said, "INC President Mallikarjun Kharge has approved the proposal for appointment of TS Singh Deo as the Deputy Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh". "He is a loyal Congress leader and an able administrator.
The state will benefit greatly from his services as Deputy CM. We are confident that the people of Chattisgarh will re-elect the Congress with a thumping majority under the leadership of Kharge ji and Rahul Gandhi ji," Venugopal added.
According to sources cited in an NDTV report, the Congress leadership's motive behind this move was to counter factionalism in a state where the party has a chance of winning a second term.
In the 2018 Chhattisgarh assembly election, Deo was among the front-runners for the top post.
However, the Congress central leadership chose Baghel, a member of Other Backward Classes who had led the party campaign.
The TS Singh Deo camp reportedly insists that the party has not honoured the rotational power-sharing agreement. Additionally, there have been allegations that the Chhattisgarh CM's supporters have attempted to undermine T S Singh Deo.
The power-sharing issue turned into an embarrassing fight within the party in August 2021.
The Congress, which had come to power just two-and-a-half years before, witnessed around 55 of the 70 Congress MLAs backing Baghel, who made it clear that he would not quit without a fight.
The issue was resolved after intervention of the Gandhis.
The development in Chhattisgarh gains significance as the party is unable to resolve the political crisis in poll-bound Rajasthan, where former deputy CM Sachin Pilot has launched an all-out attack against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot led Congress government.
The Congress is reportedly finding it difficult to meet Pilot's three core demands without upsetting the Chief Minister or discrediting the state government.
Reportedly, the high command intends to reach a compromise with Pilot, although it's a challenging task because of the Tonk MLA's insistence that Gehlot accepts all his demands, including a high-level enquiry into alleged corruption cases during erstwhile Vasundhara Raje government, disbanding Rajasthan Public Service Commission and reconstituting it via a new law, and compensation for students who suffered due to paper leaks.
The Gehlot camp has been opposing the acceptance of these demands as it may negatively impact the Congress government ahead of the upcoming elections, particularly because of Pilot's allegation that the investigation of cases related to the Raje government was intentionally delayed.
Meanwhile, Pilot is under pressure from his supporters as the party is yet to accept his demands.
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