Around 64 MLAs who attended the cabinet meeting held on Sunday, 17 July voiced that such events are harmful for the party in the run-up to the Assembly elections, and that strict but respectable action should be taken against the minister.
Singhdeo, who held five portfolios in the Cabinet, tendered his resignation, citing that "important decisions were taken without his approval and knowledge," and that he isn't being allowed to perform effectively as a minister.
Singhdeo levelled some serious allegations too: he claimed that he "wasn’t taken into confidence" before the draft rules under the Panchayat (Extension of the Scheduled Areas) Act, prepared by his department, were changed. He also said that despite his repeated requests, the funds for Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana were not sanctioned, due to which houses of around 8 lakh people couldn’t be constructed.
Bad Waters Continue To Rock Congress' Boat in Chhattisgarh
In December 2018, when the Congress government rose to power, winning 68 out of the 90 Assembly seats in the state, the party leadership had apparently arrived at a two-and-a-half-year power-sharing formula between Baghel and Singhdeo. Although the friction between the two top leaders has been dismissed as rumours time and again, the rivalry has been visible throughout Baghel's tenure.
Singhdeo's resignation is being viewed as a response to alleged attempts of members of the Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel camp to marginalise Singhdeo.
Earlier this summer, when Baghel began a tour of the state – all 90 constituencies – to assess the ground work and the party's position, Singhdeo embarked on a parallel yatra.
Talking to The Quint, Ashok Tomar, a political analyst from Chhattisgarh, had said that for Baghel, the tour was a chance to strengthen his relationship with the rural Chhattisgarh, while for Singhdeo it was a battle to remain at the centre of state politics.
Commenting on the speculations of the widening rift, Singhdeo had said, "We are discharging our duties. It should not be seen as anything else." Singhdeo also said that the talks of rift and leadership change will remain irrespective of whether he tours or not.
Many experts believe that Singhdeo is eyeing the 2023 elections as his chance to hold the office of the chief minister.
At the same time, Congress leaders and experts alike maintain that the party had peaked in its performance in 2018, and it would be difficult for them to retain the same number of seats.
Following the debacle of separate tours, Singhdeo and Baghel had also found themselves on different ends of the Adivasi issues. The former took a stand for the Adivasis protesting against the coal mining in northern Chhattisgarh's Hasdeo Aranya area. However, Baghel changed his stand the following day, saying that no trees will be cut if Singhdeo, who hails from the region, doesn’t consent to it.
However, the cat-and-mouse game between the top leaders has often exposed the vulnerabilities within the Congress party in Chhattisgarh.
Congress' Vulnerabilities Exposed Before Assembly Elections 2023?
A political commentator had earlier told The Quint that the Congress' good report card owes more credit to its rival Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) poor performance in the state, which hasn't been able to function well as an Opposition.
The commentator further observed that had the BJP been a little more active and aggressive in the state, the infighting within the Congress would have been more out in the public.
"Whether the state or the Central leadership intervenes and whether all things will be settled before the state runs into the election is yet to be seen, but the turmoil within the party has been stretched long and would only widen the rift if delayed further," a senior journalist from Chhattisgarh opined.