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TS Singhdeo Appointed as Deputy CM of Chhattisgarh: Promises Fulfilled?

Senior journalists in the state said that this was an attempt to console Singhdeo.

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T S Singhdeo was appointed as the deputy chief minister of Chhattisgarh after a Congress party meeting in Delhi on Wednesday, 28 June.

The decision comes ahead of the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections 2023, with Singhdeo indicating hesitation and unwillingness to contest in the polls this time.

Chhattisgarh has been in political turmoil ever since Congress won a thumping majority in the last elections, ousting the BJP after 15 years, as the concept of sharing the chief ministerial position was floated in the state.

The formula claimed to allow both Singhdeo and Baghel to share the chief ministerial position for two-and-a-half years each. However, Baghel has remained as the CM for over four-and-a-half years while the tussle between the two party stalwarts continued to be reported.

Political observers believe that appointing Singhdeo as the deputy CM merely five months before the Assembly elections is an attempt to control dissatisfaction among Congress party workers and his loyalists, which could have otherwise had an impact on many seats in the state.

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How Singhdeo's Appointment Was Perceived

In a statement Congress' general secretary KC Venugopal on Wednesday, 28 June, said: "He is a loyal Congress leader and an able administrator. The state will benefit greatly from his services as Deputy CM. We are confident that the people of Chattisgarh will re-elect the Congress with a thumping majority under the leadership of Kharge ji and Rahul Gandhi ji."

Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel also tweeted congratulating Singhdeo and wrote, "We are ready. Congratulations and best wishes to Maharaj Saheb for his responsibility as Deputy Chief Minister."

Senior journalists in the state said that this was an attempt to console Singhdeo and to ensure that no unforeseen incident takes place before the elections.

"They (Congress) had to do it. Singhdeo was clearly promised the CM post for half of the term and the party leaders went back on their promises. Singhdeo was hurt and had already expressed his doubt of contesting the 2023 assembly elections. Had it gone ahead with his plans and dropped out from the race it would have hurt the party and the morale of the party workers. This a good step to ensure his availability and to pacify the long standing rift between the two senior leaders in the state," said a senior journalist requesting anonymity.

Ensuring Cohesion Before 2023 Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections

Chhattisgarh will go into elections later this year with Congress looking to retain its hard earned majority in the state. Sources also said that this is a major step towards ensuring cohesion within the party and among party workers.

A party source told The Quint, "We welcome the decision to appoint Singhdeo ji as deputy CM of the state. There were talks that he might miss out on the next elections and he himself pointed this out on many occasions, this decision will ensure that nothing of this sort happens."

Another senior journalist requesting not to be named said that this move is also in preparation for the future, in case raids by the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax departments were conducted against CM Baghel or his family.

"This has been the talk of the state for sometime now that the raids by ED and IT might get hold of the Chief Minister or any of his family members. In that scenario it will be very viable for Singhdeo to become the CM and will also be convenient for the Congress to replace Baghel with someone carrying a lot of trust and acceptance in the state," they said.

Political commentator Ashok Tomar termed it as a balancing act by the Congress, adding that the party has given fuel to Singhdeo's urge for becoming the CM.

"This is purely an act to balance the scales. One thing is very clear that Singhdeo will not be satisfied with the deputy post. He will fight the next elections to get promoted to CM post and the party has given him the necessary boost," he said.

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