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Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel: A Farmer's Son And A Political Surgeon

New Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel is a political surgeon. He now puts his hand to the plough.

Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel: A Farmer's Son And A Political Surgeon
Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel: A Farmer's Son And A Political Surgeon
outlookindia.com
2018-12-21T10:50:21+05:30

Of the records that new Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel holds, there’s a couple that stands out. The rock-ribbed, nonconformist Congressman put two state strongmen in the pits when no one thought it is possible. They are former party colleague Ajit Jogi, the state’s first chief minister, and the BJP’s Raman Singh who ruled for 15 years until the Baghel-inspired Congress turnaround this assembly polls. The Congress swept to power winning 68 of the 90 assembly seats. And the five-time MLA for Patan in Durg district is credited with composing this much-awaited victory—sweetest for the party since the state was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000—and efficiently segueing Chhattisgarh Congress from an internal infighting unit to a strong alternative to the BJP.

But fixing the disjointed Congress needed major and risky surgery, which 57-year-old Baghel and T.S. Singhdeo—the legislator for Ambikapur and former leader of the Opposition—perfor­med with precision. This happened after Amit Jogi, the son of former chief minister Jogi, surfaced in the Antagarh tapes controversy that purportedly talked about a horse-trading deal during an assembly bypoll in 2014. Antagarh in Bastar was catapulted to nationwide attention after Congress candidate Manturam Pawar withdrew from the contest rep­or­tedly without the party’s consent just before voting day. An audiotape apparently containing voices of the Jogi duo and then CM Raman Singh’s son-in-law Punit Gupta emerged soon after.

The audiotape triggered Amit Jogi’s expulsion from the party and resignation of his father. Expelling the Jogis was an audacious move. Baghel’s predecessors could not have dared such a thing because the perception was that Ajit Jogi had a legion of followers and any mutiny would wound the Congress. Baghel,...

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