Bhupesh Baghel said the main issues in the polls would be the BJP government’s failure in Assam.

New Delhi:

Rahul Gandhi is the only leader who can take on the mantle of the Congress presidentship as he is the one who has been taking a strong stand on important issues without bowing to government’s pressure, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has said, amid a growing chorus within the party seeking Rahul Gandhi’s return to the helm.

Within a span of one week, two state units of the Congress have passed resolutions backing Rahul Gandhi’s return as party chief. While Delhi Congress had passed a resolution requesting Rahul Gandhi to take over as chief last Sunday, the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee (CPCC) on Saturday unanimously passed a resolution moved by Bhupesh Baghel to re-appoint the Wayanad MP as the party president.

“All Congress persons are standing resolutely with Rahul Gandhi and believe that under his leadership, the Congress organisation will be constantly strengthened. Under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, confidence has been kindled among Congress workers that under his leadership and guidance, they will strengthen the party’s foundation,” the resolution passed by the CPCC said.

In an interview with PTI, Bhupesh Baghel said Rahul Gandhi enjoys the confidence of one and all in the party and holds the party together.

Asked if Rahul Gandhi was best suited to take on party presidentship, he said, “Who else is there. Apart from Rahul Gandhi, is there any leader who is touring the country, who is recognized by the Congress workers across the country?”

Rahul Gandhi is speaking out on all issues, be it demonetisation, GST, or COVID-19, he made his stand clear, the Chhattisgarh chief minister said.

“He also took a clear cut stand in favour of farmers. So, he is the only leader who is taking a clear cut stand (on important issues), is putting forth his views forcefully, not bowing before the government’s pressure,” Bhupesh Baghel said.

Asked if Rahul Gandhi should become president through elections or should he be appointed chief without the electoral process as a unanimous choice, he said whatever the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and the Congress Working Committee (CWC) decide would be followed.

Everything should be done according to the Constitution of the party, he added.

“Definitely, Rahul Gandhi is the only leader who can take on the mantle of national presidentship of the party,” Bhupesh Baghel asserted.

On whether elections to the CWC should also be held along with the polls of party president, Bhupesh Baghel said the matter had been discussed and there was no controversy as whatever is in the Constitution of the party will be followed.

“The party traditions will be followed. We have a constitution and traditions are also there which will be followed,” he said.

Congress last month announced that the party will have an elected president by June 2021 “at any cost”.

After a three-and-a-half-hour meeting, which was stormy at times, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest policy-making body, had authorised incumbent chief Sonia Gandhi to schedule the internal elections after the conclusion of assembly polls in five states due to be held in April-May.

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Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala had said that the CWC elections will also be held but it remains to be seen whether they can be scheduled before or after the election to the post of Congress president.

Sonia Gandhi took over as interim Congress president after Rahul Gandhi resigned in the wake of the party’s Lok Sabha debacle in May 2019.

Bhupesh Baghel, who was recently made a senior observer for the upcoming Assam assembly polls by the party for overseeing the election campaign management and coordination, slammed the BJP for targeting the Congress’ alliance with All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in the state.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had kickstarted BJP’s campaign for the state election in Assam last month, alleging that the Congress-AIUDF combine will open “all gates” to welcome infiltrators if it comes to power in Assam.

Hitting out at the BJP, Bhupesh Baghel said, “It is unfortunate that the BJP indulges in politics of fear. They never talk about their achievements. There is an alliance of six parties, but they are talking about one party (AIUDF).”

“If you (BJP) are talking about Assam. You were in power for five years, how many promises you fulfilled. What happened about the major promises,” he asked.

The BJP always spreads fear, sometimes of Pakistan, sometimes of China, and at other times of Hindu-Muslim, Bhupesh Baghel alleged.

“They (BJP) scare people and threaten them. They are getting people to crossover to their party by scaring and threatening them. After going into the party, what is the state of the leaders, be it (Jyotiraditya) Scindia or Himanta Biswa Sarma,” Bhupesh Baghel said.

Asserting that the Congress’ electoral prospects in Assam are very good, Bhupesh Baghel said the main issues in the polls would be the BJP government’s failure in Assam and the achievements of the Congress government which was in power for 15 years in the state.

He said the Congress alliance will soon come up with a common minimum programme and a coordination committee will be set up, he said.

The election to the 126-member Assam Assembly is likely in March-April.

The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) has announced that it will contest the forthcoming state polls in alliance with five parties — AIUDF, the CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML), and the Anchalik Gana Morcha — to oust the ruling BJP from power. 

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