The long wait for Chhattisgarh chief minister is set to end today as Congress will announce the candidate at a meeting of MLAs in Raipur.
Party’s Chhattisgarh in-charge, PL Punia said the party will announce the candidate at the Congress legislature party (CLP) meeting at 12.30 pm and assured that the opinion of all the MLAs will be considered.
State Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel, who is said to be a key player behind the party’s impressive win in the assembly elections, is likely to be picked for the post, a person with knowledge of the matter said on Saturday.
Baghel returned to Raipur from Delhi on Sunday morning.
The swearing-in ceremony is likely to be held on Monday, said the person quoted above, asking not to be named.
The process to pick the Chhattisgarh CM took longer than those in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan because of divided opinion within the state leadership of the party, another leader said.
The party leadership had first zeroed in on Congress Working Committee member Tamradhwaj Sahu for the post, but the move was strongly resisted by both state chief Baghel and former legislature party leader TS Singh Deo, another strong contender for CM, the leader said on condition of anonymity.
Former Union minister Chandras Mahant was another key contender for the post.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi had on Saturday tweeted a picture of himself flanked by all the four claimants to the post, hinting at the end of tussle over the chief ministership.
When asked whether he would be the CM, Singh Deo told ANI he would work for the state, but did not reveal any other details.
On the delay and BJP’s criticism, he said, “BJP which took more than seven to eight days to appoint its recent Chief Ministers should not comment on us.”
A party functionary, who was part of the deliberations, dismissed reports suggesting that the CM post will be rotated between Baghel and Singh Deo after two-and-a-half years. “This happens in a coalition government and not within a party,” he said on condition of anonymity.
The Congress, which struggled to make electoral inroads since 2013, on Tuesday handed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) its biggest defeat in three crucial heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh, in a boost to the main opposition ahead of next year’s general election.
With only 15 seats, the BJP suffered a big defeat in Chhattisgarh. The Congress won in 68 seats in the House of 90.