NEW DELHI: Gearing up for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the Congress on Saturday named Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel as a senior observer for the polls next year.
The appointment also assumes significance as it comes amid speculation over the possibility of a leadership change in Chhattisgarh where cabinet minister T S Singhdeo is vying for the top job in the state.
Baghel, who had played a crucial role in the run up to the Assam assembly polls with his team carrying out extensive booth training of party workers, has in the past discussed the preparations for the elections in UP with Congress general secretary in-charge Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
"The Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) has appointed Shri Bhupesh Bhagel, chief minister, Chhattisgarh, as AICC senior observer for the ensuing elections in Uttar Pradesh, with immediate effect," the Congress said in a statement.
Terming it a huge responsibility, Baghel said, "The Congress president has directed me to be a senior observer for the elections in Uttar Pradesh. I will try my best to live up to the expectations of the top leadership."
"'Parivartan ka sankalp, Congress hi vikalp' (Resolve is of change, alternative is Congress)," he tweeted.
Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu congratulated Baghel for the new assignment and said that under his guidance, all the workers of the Congress in the state will give their all with a resolve to bring about a change in the upcoming elections.
Baghel's appointment comes amid speculation over the possibility of a leadership change in Chhattisgarh and a number of Congress MLAs known to be close to the chief minister camping in Delhi.
The MLAs camping in Delhi is being viewed by many as a show of strength but sources in the Baghel camp have insisted that the MLAs were reaching Delhi on their own accord and there was no show of strength going on.
Baghel on Saturday asserted that his state can never become Punjab.
The Congress has been in turmoil in Punjab after Amarinder Singh quit as the chief minister and the party's state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from his post ahead of the crucial assembly elections in the state early next year.
When asked about the MLAs' trip to Delhi, Baghel said in Raipur that there is no ban on the legislators from going somewhere and they are independent.
"It is not a political movement. You ask if it is a political movement. They will visit and return," he added.