Bhopal: In a major organizational overhaul, the Congress party announced several changes in its leadership in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In these two states, it had suffered a humiliating defeat in the recent assembly elections.
In Madhya Pradesh, the party removed veteran leader Kamal Nath from the post of state president and replaced him with Jitu Patwari, who is considered close to Rahul Gandhi. The party also appointed Umang Singhar, another former minister and a vocal critic of Kamal Nath, as the leader of the legislature party and Hemant Katare, a young MLA, as the deputy leader of the opposition.
The move is seen as an attempt to infuse fresh energy and revive the party’s fortunes in the state, where it had lost power to the BJP.
In Chhattisgarh, the party appointed Charan Das Mahant, a senior leader and former union minister, as the leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), replacing Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. Mahant was the speaker of the state assembly in the previous term. The party also retained Deepak Baij as the state president, despite speculations of his removal.
The change in the CLP leadership is seen as a balancing act by the party’s high command to quell the factionalism and power tussle between Baghel and his rival and health minister TS Singh Deo. The two leaders have been at loggerheads over several issues, including the implementation of the promised loan waiver for farmers and the rotation of the chief minister’s post.
The party’s interim president Mallikarjun Kharge took the decisions and approved the proposals sent by the party’s organization general secretary KC Venugopal. The party issued a press release on Saturday evening, announcing the appointments and expressing gratitude to the outgoing leaders for their services.
The Congress party is facing a leadership crisis and an organizational decline across the country, as it struggles to counter the BJP’s dominance and revive its base. The party has been out of power at the center since 2014 and has lost several state elections in the past few years. The party is also facing internal dissent from a group of senior leaders, who have been demanding an overhaul of the party structure and a full-time and active president.