Giving a new catchphrase to the simmering Chhattisgarh politics, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel pronounced ‘kaka abhi zinda hai’ (uncle is still alive) during an event in Raipur in the presence of political rival T.S. Singh Deo and amidst continuing speculations over change of guard in the state.
Baghel said this in response to slogans raised in his favour during a government programme on World Pharmacists Day. As some people said ‘Bhupesh kaka zindabad’, the chief minister stopped amid his speech, smiled broadly and said ‘kaka abhi zinda hai’. He then blinked briefly at the crowd in an inclusive gesture, broad smile still on face. Baghel is popularly called ‘dau’ and ‘kaka’ in Chhattisgarh, both local terms for ‘uncle’.
Baghel later shared the clipping of his remark on his Twitter account, with the same tagline.
The chief minister’s remark looked a lot in the line of the tagline ‘tiger abhi zinda hai’ used in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh when politics of change was simmering there. ‘Tiger abhi zinda hai’ has been used by MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan multiple times but the first and notable of these occasions was while he was leaving CM House after BJP loss in 2018 Assembly elections. Later, Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia used the same phrase outside the MP Raj Bhavan after ex-Congress leaders supporting him took oath as ministers in Shivraj cabinet in July 2020.
Baghel resorting to a similar remark and then sharing it on his social media looks like giving out a hint that he was still very much in the helm of affairs in the state. The CM has been engaged in a political tussle with T.S. Singh Deo over a purported 2.5 years power sharing formula in the state.
He had been summoned to Delhi last month amidst simmering tensions, but seemed to have got a lifeline after majority MLAs paraded voluntarily in his favour in Delhi. The CM is again supposed to visit Delhi in October first week to get consent from Rahul Gandhi for the latter’s proposed visit to Chhattisgarh.
When Baghel used the phrase, T.S Singh Deo was present in the programme in the capacity of state health minister and seemed to be sharing good on-stage chemistry with Baghel, conversing with him off and on.
However, on Friday night after returning after a five-day stay in New Delhi, Singh Deo stirred the political pot again, remarking that the wait for change in Chhattisgarh was like waiting eagerly for daughter’s marriage when there was a delay in that. “Let’s see whether the marriage happens or not,” he had said.
The BJP kept taking a dig at the situation, especially on Singh Deo’s comment, throughout Saturday. While leader of opposition Dharamlal Kaushik likened the situation to the wait period of nine months for childbirth, ex-minister Rajesh Munat said that the ‘bride had been selected and everyone is looking towards the priests in Delhi to finalise the wedding date.’
Congress chief spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi said that the BJP, for the total bankruptcy of issues, are resorting to silly comments to distract people. “I challenge them to talk about development in Chhattisgarh,” he said.