Monday, 27 March, 2023
HomePoliticsAttack allegation, then apology: Crisis in Chhattisgarh Congress now after MLA-minister row

Attack allegation, then apology: Crisis in Chhattisgarh Congress now after MLA-minister row

Congress MLA Brihaspati Singh had alleged that minister T.S. Singh Deo wanted to get him killed. Both are claimants to the CM chair in Chhattisgarh.

Text Size:

Raipur: A Congress MLA in Chhattisgarh, Brihaspati Singh, who accused minister and senior party leader T.S. Singh Deo of plotting to kill him apologised in the state assembly Wednesday, but it’s unlikely to stop the rumblings in the ruling Congress.

The attack on Singh, said to be a claimant to the chief minister’s chair, has brought to surface an intense power struggle in the ruling party, days after the Congress high command had devised a new power-sharing formula in Punjab, appointing Navjot Sidhu, CM Amarinder Singh’s detractor and a CM aspirant, the state Congress president despite strong objections by the latter.

Deo was also a claimant to the CM post in Chhattisgarh after the Congress’ victory in December 2018 assembly elections. But the Congress high command opted for Bhupesh Baghel, instead. Mid-way through Bhupesh’s term, Health and Rural Development Minister Deo has once again staked his claim to the CM post, according to Congress insiders. They are linking Singh’s attack on Deo to this power struggle in the ruling party.

“Deo is being targetted by his opponents in the party. It’s well known that allegations made by Brihaspati Singh were frivolous. It’s being done to tarnish Deo’s public image and undermine his equations with the central leadership,” said a Pradesh Congress Committee secretary, who did not wish to be named.

“This incident has saddened every right thinking Congressman and it’s unlikely to be over soon. The minister has written to the AICC leadership demanding appropriate action in the matter. Crisis will deepen if he is not heard,” added the Congress functionary.

What MLA Singh said

Congress’ Ramanujganj legislator Brihaspati Singh had alleged Sunday that Deo wanted to kill him to become the chief minister. Singh was accompanied by 18 Congress legislators during the media interaction where he made these allegations.

Initially, Deo dismissed the allegations saying Singh “must have said something under emotions”. He, however, wrote a letter to the AICC leadership saying efforts were being made to malign him.

The minister wanted his own government to condemn MLA’s charges against him. But there was no statement from the state government even as the opposition BJP created a ruckus in the assembly Monday.

Also read: 2.5 yrs in office but CM Baghel yet to frame ‘anti-Naxal’ policy, BJP says he is clueless

High drama in assembly

On Tuesday, Deo staged a walkout from the assembly saying he won’t return until his government clears the air over allegations levelled by Singh.

“Now it’s too much. I am also a human being, all know well about me and my character. Allegations are made against my parents despite everyone here well aware of their conduct and character. It won’t be proper for me to take part in the House proceedings till the government comes up with an answer on the allegations made against me,” Deo said. He left the assembly and AICC state in-charge P.L. Punia resorted to firefighting.

Punia called Deo for a meeting with Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. The meeting, however, remained inconclusive as Deo said he stands by his statement and “now only the chief minister will speak on this matter”.

The BJP too had stalled the House Monday seeking a reply from the government. The Opposition wanted Speaker Charandas Mahant to order a probe as the matter concerned the security of a legislator.

Mahant, however, rejected the Opposition’s demand, though he asked the government to answer queries raised by BJP leaders in the House.

Deo returned Wednesday after Chhattisgarh Home Minister Tamrdhwaj Sahu said allegations against Deo were baseless. Singh was served a show cause notice Tuesday night, following which he apologised.

Responding to the Speaker’s order, Sahu Tuesday denied any attack on the MLA and said a vehicle in his motorcade was attacked after an altercation broke out between Singh’s staff and three persons who tried to overtake the MLA’s van after he reached Ambikapur Circuit house. Sahu said all three accused were arrested by the police after an FIR was registered by Singh.

“Allegations by a ruling party MLA against a senior cabinet minister were strange and never heard of in the past despite recurring communication gaps among legislators and ministers. This was a blot on Chhattisgarh’s politics. We wanted a probe to find truth in the allegations and the minister also supported our demands which was clear from the way he walked out from the House asking for his government’s statement on allegations against him,” Dharamlal Kaushik, leader of the Opposition in the House, told ThePrint.

PCC chief and party MLA Mohan Markam said the state party leaders will deliberate over the entire fiasco and take steps to prevent such incidents in the future.

“It was an unfortunate incident. Now that MLA has accepted his guilt and apologised in the house, we must leave it behind and move forward. Steps will be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future,” said Markam.

Asked about Deo’s alleged ambitions for the CM post, or if there had even been any talk of him taking over after Baghel completes two and a half years as CM, Markam sad: “I don’t see this has any link with the chief minister, and I am not aware of any 2.5 years power sharing formula.”

Political analysts, however, said Singh’s remarks against Deo are nothing but a political move by the MLA and his supporters. “This has no legal or constitutional implications but only politics behind it. The incident has exposed the ruling Congress of its deep-seated factionalism. Things are not seemingly well in the Congress despite the party having huge numbers in the House” said Sushil Trivedi, retired bureaucrat and political analyst.

Also read: Why BJP fighting 2023 Chhattisgarh polls without CM face is not good news for Raman Singh

‘Power struggle’

BJP leaders in the state, meanwhile, claimed that the attack was a conspiracy to sideline Deo and unsettle his relation with the Congress’ central leadership.

“It’s loud and clear that ruling party leaders have huge differences among them and MLA Brihaspati Singh was merely a means to fulfill the goal of anti-Deo camp in the Congress. It’s a result of a power struggle between the chief minister and his minister,” said former minister and BJP spokesperson Rajesh Mudat.

Former BJP MLA and senior party leader Srichand Sundarani said: “It was a high-level conspiracy hatched by anti-Deo camp to sideline him and keep away from the much talked about 2.5 years power-sharing formula of the ruling party. Even the way it ended raises several questions. Why only Brihaspati Singh was served a show cause notice and not 18 others who were with him? Besides, can an apology alone absolve the MLA who attempted character assassination of the minister?”

Also read: Punjab managed, Congress turns to Rajasthan to resolve Sachin Pilot-Ashok Gehlot row


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular