Chhattisgarh: Singh Deo widens chasm with Baghel, sheds key portfolio

Chhattisgarh: Singh Deo widens chasm with Baghel, sheds key portfolio

India News

The simmering power tussle between Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and senior minister T S Singh Deo came to a head Saturday with the latter relinquishing the charge of the crucial Panchayat and Rural Development portfolio — a move set to push the state unit of the Congress into further turmoil.

Worsening matters for the Congress, Singh Deo, who continues to hold four other ministries, spelt out his reasons for relinquishing the Panchayat and Rural Development department in a public, four-page letter to Baghel.

Singh Deo and Baghel have been in a tug of war since the Congress trounced the BJP to form the government in Chhattisgarh in 2018. A CM contender, Singh Deo saw himself as pushed to the sidelines by Baghel. A rotational formula never materialised.

Among the reasons cited by Singh Deo in his letter were non-sanction of funds under the PM Awas Yojana, as a result of which, the minister said, houses could not be constructed for eight lakh people in the state.

Singh Deo wrote he had discussed the issue with Baghel several times, “but funds were not made available” and, as a result, “not even a single house could be constructed for the homeless”.

The letter also confirmed raging speculation about differences between Singh Deo and the CM over implementation of the Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) rules.

Singh Deo said his department had drawn up draft rules after extensive consultations held over two years with people in tribal blocks, but once sent to the cabinet committee, these were changed.

Singh Deo retains the portfolios of Health and Family Welfare, Medical Education, Twenty Point Implementation and Commercial Tax (GST) departments.

The blow-up comes too close to the 2023 Assembly polls for comfort for the Congress.

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