New Delhi/Raipur, Oct 11 (UNI) Days after Chhattisgarh Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel was sent to judicial custody and later granted bail by a CBI court in connection with the alleged circulation of a fake pornographic CD of state PWD minister Rajesh Munat, the Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday announced setting up of a panel that would ultimately clip Mr Baghel’s wings.
According to party sources, the Congress president has constituted a core committee to oversee the election process in the state that will see two phase polling on November 12 and November 20.
The panel will be headed by PL Puniya, Congress MP, and will comprise Mr Baghel, T S Singhdeo, Dr Charan Das Mahant, Arvind Netam, Kamla Manhar and Tamardhwaj Sadhu.
Mr Puniya, a Rajya Sabha member from UP, is a Dalit leader and was also chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes between 2013-16.
From 2009 to 2014, he represented Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki Lok Sabha constituency.
The BJP leader and PWD Minister Munat, in his complaint, had alleged that Baghel had conspired with a ‘former journalist’ and others to circulate the fake sex CD.
Later, Mr Baghel told the court during a hearing on September 24 that he is “innocent”.
A court had then sent him in judicial remand for 14 days and was given bail on September 27.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had asked Mr Gandhi to sack Mr Baghel after he was named in the CBI charge sheet. On Tuesday, the BJP expelled its leader Kailash Murarka, who has also been arraigned by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
“This is a major decision by the Congress president. The Congress high command has taken a matured decision. In some ways, as PCC chief Baghel was becoming dictator – ignoring others on organisational matter. Had it not been election time, the CD episode and Baghel being sent to jail was enough reason to sack him,” says political commentator Nirmal Manik.
He further says: “Taking any action like sacking Baghel can displease Baghel’s supporters and also send wrong message. Thus, his powers have been seized. It is a good move and can be seen as a damage control work”.
The sidelining of Mr Baghel in the electioneering process would give booster to the rival camps in the Congress – led by election committee chairman Charan Das Mahant or the Leader of the Opposition Singhdeo.
Understandably, the rival BJP and newly floated Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) camps are happy about the developments in the Congress.
“More they fight, more we are proven right. Congress house is in chaos. They are not in a position to fight BJP. In fact, Narendra Modi’s biggest asset is such leadership crisis in the Congress and immense organisational weaknesses,” JCC leader Amit Jogi told UNI.
BJP legislator in Bilaspur and state Health Minister Amar Agrawal also maintained that the internal squabbling in the Congress have “double blessings for the BJP”.
“Firstly, it is proved, the Congress is not a fighting fit party. They may have a support base and votes but it is hardly battle ready,” he said.
The Minister further said the CD episode has yet again showed that the Congress politics is hardly about the reality or issues concerning people’s problems. “The CD episode exposes their bankruptcy,” he added.