State Congress president Bhupesh Baghel, a key player in the party’s impressive win in the assembly elections, was sworn in as the new Chhattisgarh Chief Minister on Monday evening. He is the first Congress Chief Minister of the state since 2003.
His name was cleared after Congress president Rahul Gandhi held extensive discussions with senior leaders. He was formally elected the leader by party legislators on Sunday.
Baghel got the nod ahead of Congress Working Committee (CWC) member Tamradhwaj Sahu and former legislature party chief TS Singh Deo. The name of Charan Das Mahant is also believed to have figured in the initial discussions.
Sahu and Singh Deo took oath as ministers at a ceremony that was attended by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and other senior leaders.
Bhupesh Baghel won the assembly elections from Patan in Chhattisgarh’s Durg district.
Resurrecting The Congress In Chhattisgarh
Bhupesh Baghel was chosen to lead the state Congress a year after the party’s top leadership was wiped out in a Maoist attack in Sukma district’s Jhiram Ghati in May 2013.
Maoists killed the then state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and popular leader Mahendra Karma. Former Union Minister VC Shukla succumbed to his injuries a few days later.
Senior party leader and former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi formed his own party, the Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (J), a few years later.
It was left to Baghel to resurrect the Congress across the state. He worked hard to strengthen the party so that it could take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that had won three consecutive assembly elections.
As it turned out, the Congress led by Baghel handed the BJP a massive defeat. He is credited with bringing the party back to power after 15 years in oblivion and dethroning former BJP CM Raman Singh.
Bhupesh Baghel – Early Political Career
Bhupesh Baghel was born on 23 August 1961 to a farmer’s family from the Kurmi community.
When he was 25 years old, he stepped into politics by joining the Indian Youth Congress in 1986.
In 1993, he was elected as an MLA of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly from Patan. He retained the seat in the 1998 assembly elections.
He was appointed Chairman of MP State Road Transport Corporation in January 2000.
Creation Of A New State
After the creation of Chhattisgarh in 2000, Baghel became a minister in the state cabinet. He won again from Patan in the 2003 elections. He then served as Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly for five years.
He lost from Patan in the 2008 elections. In 2009, he lost from Raipur as well. Baghel, however, won from Patan in the 2013 assembly elections.
Chhattisgarh Elections And Verdict
Chhattisgarh was one of five states where assembly elections were held in November and December. Polls in the state were conducted in two phases on 12 November and 20 November.
The Chhattisgarh verdict saw the Indian National Congress (INC) returning to power after 15 years with a massive two-third majority, winning 68 seats in the 90-member house. The BJP was reduced to 15 seats.