Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who is facing a challenge to his job from rival TS Singh Deo, headed to Delhi along with 9 MLAs and members of the All India Professional Congress members on Friday morning.
While the MLAs left independently early in the morning, the chief minister left with two cabinet ministers at around 11 am.
While talking to reporters at the airport, Baghel said that he had been called by All India Congress Committee chief KC Venugopal. However, AICC’s Chhattisgarh in-charge, P L Punia, said that the Chief Minister had travelled to the national capital to meet Rahul Gandhi.
Between Thursday and Friday, around 35 MLAs have travelled to Delhi despite Punia and state Congress President Mohan Markam asking them to follow discipline and respect the high command. The Congress has 70 MLAs in the state.
Five cabinet ministers and an MP were also seen standing by Baghel, in what is being seen as a show of strength by him as he is locked in a leadership tussle with state Health Minister T S Singh Deo.
Sources said that the issue of a rotational CM is still open, and the high command wants an amicable settlement. The arrival of so many party MLAs signal that Baghel is mounting pressure on the central leadership. The move is seen also an attempt to send a message that he has a clear majority in the legislature party.
“I don’t want to comment on anyone’s statement,” Baghel said. When asked as to why so many MLAs are suddenly travelling to Delhi, Baghel said, “They are going to meet their leaders. No one has been able to travel due to Covid-19 restriction and hence, they are going now. I, too, have been called and so I am going.”
Baghel is expected to meet KC Venugopal and Rahul Gandhi in Delhi, even as sources said that the MLAs who are already in Delhi have been trying to get an appointment from the leaders but to no avail.