Chhattisgarh Congress presented a united face to its key tribal voters on the World Tribal Day on Wednesday as Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and his newly appointed deputy T.S. Singh Deo attended the state-level event at Sarguja and the district event at Bastar – the headquarters of the two biggest tribal regions of the state.
Several announcements for future development works were also made by the CM on the occasion.
Events were held in all districts of the state with ministers, Congress MLAs and leaders attending them. The programme in capital Raipur was attended by state Congress president and Member of Parliament, Deepak Baij and state in-charge of the party Kumari Selja apart from other leaders.
The World Tribal Day celebration was given a mega form by the Congress government ahead of the assembly polls as tribal people constitute the biggest chunk of voters in Chhattisgarh at around 32 per cent.
Bastar and Sarguja were expectedly in focus as they have 11 and 9 scheduled tribes (ST) reserved seats respectively, constituting the biggest blocks of the 29 total ST reserved seats in the state. Singh Deo, a veteran Congress leader, wields significant influence in the Sarguja region.
Therefore, the presence of Baghel and Singh Deo together at both the function was politically significant. Baghel and Singh Deo were considered architects of the massive Congress win in the state in 2018 and they had then become famous as ‘Jai-Veeru’ after the lead characters in iconic Bollywood movie Sholay.
However, the past two years of the Congress rule in the state were marred by public infighting between Baghel and Singh Deo, who reportedly had been promised the chief minister’s chair for half of the five-year tenure. The turf war took quite a serious turn in August 2021, forcing the Congress central leadership to intervene by calling both leaders to Delhi. Though Singh Deo had gone quiet after that, the issue of infighting was a consistent point for the opposition BJP to rake up.
The matter was settled last month when Singh Deo was made the deputy CM and some changes were brought about in the Baghel cabinet. After this development, this is the first time that Baghel and Singh Deo are on a joint tour.
Recently, Singh Deo had said that he preferred the sobriquet of ‘Kaka-Baba’ for the duo over ‘Jai-Veeru’ that had become old. Baghel is popularly called ‘Kaka’ (uncle) and Singh Deo has always been known as ‘Baba’ (a popular nickname meaning uncle or father. The Congress is now trying to establish this ‘Kaka-Baba’ team ahead of the poll).
On Wednesday, therefore, the two leaders remained together for entire day, traveling, eating and attending the public events. At the Sarguja event, minister Amarjeet Bhagat – a Baghel loyalist and considered opposed to Singh Deo, was also present, as were Baij and Selja.
Bastar gets development works of Rs 637 crores, Sarguja 334.23 crores
During the events, chief minister Bhupesh Baghel said that the Congress government was working for the betterment of tribal as well as other communities in the state. He inaugurated and laid foundation stones of development works worth Rs 637 crores for Bastar and Rs 334.23 crores for Sarguja at the respective programmes.
In Jagdalpur of Bastar, Baghel said that Bastar is an island of peace and nature’s jewel. “The people here are innocent, hardworking and sincere. For the past few years, the region was under shadow of fear, but now that shadow was being lifted as the number of violent incidents (related to Maoist insurgents) had reduced significantly. Now, people are able to reap the benefit of development schemes, getting educated, engaging in trade and employment and also getting better connected to their culture and conserving it. “We are making our best efforts to fulfill the dreams of our ancestors for a beautiful Bastar,” the CM said.
Among the key announcements for Bastar region made at the event included BEd and DEd colleges at all district headquarters, Rs 100 crore worth indoor stadium at Jagdalpur, hostels for tribal girls and boys at Tokapal and Loharigunda, 14.5 km long road between Mandrimahu-Urukpal-Kumakoleng and others.
At Sitapur in Sarguja, Baghel said that his government was always ready to work for the interests of tribal people and to provide justice to them. “Whether it is Swami Atmanand Schools, unemployment allowance, Rajiv Yuva Mitan Club or Suposhan scheme, we have worked to improve life conditions of people at every level, and therefore, Chhattisgarh model is getting appreciated all across India,” Baghel said.
The dais for the programme was decorated with the theme of tribal culture. More than 27,000 beneficiaries received benefits under various schemes of the state government during the programme. Departmental stalls equipped with special themes based on the schemes of tribal culture were displayed, and wonderful cultural programmes were also organized in accordance with the tribal tradition and customs.
Here, the CM announced the establishment of a government BEd College in Ambikapur, capacity of all pre-matric tribal hostels to be increased to 50, government higher secondary school, Sitapur, to be named after local martyr Krishnanath Kindo, 200-seat tribal post-matric hostel, sports and coaching academies in Sitapur, Rs 25 lakh grant for sarva samaj community hall and others.