The Congress high command on Monday named Union Minister Charan Das Mahant as acting president of the party’s Chhattisgarh unit.
Mahant’s appointment to the top organisational post came barely a week after the deadly Maoist ambush on a Congress contingent at Bastar, which claimed the lives of incumbent PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel, senior party leader Mahendra Karma and 25 Congress workers. An OBC leader, Mahant had earlier served as the party’s working president in the state.
And he was apparently roped in to head the state Congress to instill confidence in local party workers who were feeling totally demoralised in the aftermath of the massacre.
In yet another significant development,former state minister Bhupesh Baghel was appointed as programme coordinator of the Chhattisgarh PCC.
Congress sources, though, insisted that Mahant’s appointment as PCC chief had been in the making since he had emerged as a front-runner despite the stiff opposition from a section within the party.
And they said the high command had overlooked the opposition from within the party and gave Mahant the reins of the state unit in the hope that his familiarity with the state politics would help the party overcome the current insecurity in its ranks.
The Congress on Sunday announced that it would resume the ‘Parivartan Yatra’ from the site of the ambush. The dates, however, have not been decided yet. Sources said the “party will first hold a series of memorial meetings across the state for their slain leaders” before resuming the yatra. Interestingly, both Mahant and Baghel are known to be close to Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh.