After a meeting with Rahul Gandhi on Friday, in which Priyanka Vadra briefly participated, Baghel told media persons: “I told Rahul ji everything. There were discussions about political and state administrative issues. I invited Rahul Gandhi to visit Chhattisgarh. He gladly accepted the invitation. He will be there next week. He will first visit Bastar and inspect various projects there,” Bhaghel said making it clear that the political guest of honour’s visit will be for only project inspection.
When asked about the issue of rotational chief ministership, Baghel said, “Punia has already clarified this. I have told my leader whatever I wanted to do.” AICC in-charge PL Punia had earlier denied there was any promise on rotational chief ministership. On Friday, he was silent when the CM spoke.
Baghel had come prepared to Delhi on Friday, after having hinted to the AICC his lack of enthusiasm in reopening the leadership issue during his earlier discussions on Wednesday. In the Congress leadership’s bid to save Gandhi’s credibility over his promise, a senior colleague of Rahul Gandhi had tried to suggest to the CM about the scope of tapping organisational skills at a larger scale, according to party insiders. However, Baghel is learnt to have told the person that he had no interest in leaving Chhattisgarh politics and Raipur.
Earlier in the day, MLAs swearing allegiance to Baghel trooped into Punia’s house to demonstrate support to the CM, before moving to the office of general secretary, organisation, at the AICC headquarters.
Though Deo’s reminder has put the onus on Rahul Gandhi to keep his promise on important matters of governance, after burning its fingers in Rajasthan and Punjab, the high command knows any attempt to intervene with a popular and powerful CM in Chhattisgarh who has a formidable OBC background could end the same way and even runs the risk of a split. The attempt is to save AICC’s face and provide sops to pacify Deo who reportedly insists that he would quit as a minister if the promise of making him CM is not kept. Cabinet and PCC rejig, portfolio upgradation for Deo were discussed as part of the exercise.