Voice of reason to balance face of aggression in State

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 Jan 2019 12:41:49


 

By Ashok Tomar,

RAIPUR,

The unitary think-tank of the Congress, having gone for an aggressive face in Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, has sought to balance things out in appointing the cool-headed Charan Das Mahant as Speaker of the 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly today. “He will be the voice of reason in both the legislative house and the party,” a senior Congressman here said.

Dr. Mahant—new neither to regional nor national politics—was among the contenders for the chief minister’s post along with the Raja of Sarguja, T.S. Singh Deo, and the sitting member of Parliament from Durg and MLA, TamradhwajSahu.

But the party’s decision-making machinery, keeping in mind the general elections in 2019, wanted someone like Baghel, someone with a penchant for keeping a higher profile in state politics, someone widely seen as aggressive.
Baghel fit the picture well. He remained strident in his opposition to Raman Singh’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

Dr Mahant’s case is different. Of proven political pedigree—his father, late Bisahu Das Mahant, was a minister with proven record and well respected across the party lines in undivided Madhya Pradesh. Dr. Mahant is known to be a worthy son of a worthy father in the state.

Apart from it- he is a member of the OBC community and is known to be administratively able and politically clean. Even his critics within the party agree that he can carry the state with him.

The resume of this former Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing is impressive. In particular, it seems relevant to the natural resources and tribal mix of Chhattisgarh.

Before being elected to the 12th, 13th and 15th Lok Sabha, he was a member of the state assembly for three terms in undivided Madhya Pradesh, having begun at the politically young age of 34.

At the centre, apart from his tenure as minister, Dr Mahant served on various parliamentary committees: Science and Technology, Environment and Forests, Chemicals and Fertilisers, and Coal and Mines. Crucially, he was member of the Welfare Committee for SC and ST and Central Rural Development Council. Since 2006—when not at the centre—he has headed the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee.

Well educated and widely travelled, Dr. Mahant is considered accessible and organised. He addressed the 65th General Assembly of the United Nations and remains active at the grassroots level in the diverse and contrasting socio-political landscape of Chhattisgarh—from the tribal areas of Bastar to the urban strongholds of Bilaspur, Raipur and Durg.

With these two choices, the Congress high command cannot be faulted for thinking it has found the right mix for leadership in Chhattisgarh, balancing boldness with reasoning and even temper. Those aggrieved can still be accommodated in the Council of Ministers. But it cannot afford to be smug. There are mere months to go before the big test—the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections—which will end all debates.

 

Profile

A four-time MLA and three-time MP with nearly four decades of unbroken service to the people of India and Chhattisgarh, Dr Charan Das Mahant has had a stellar record as Minister at the Union and state levels, and as a Member of several key Committees in the Lok Sabha. In his long political career, Dr Mahant has built a reputation of being a trustworthy, credible and responsible leader who works and speaks for all the people of Chhattisgarh and, indeed, all of India.

His initiatives on industrial development and environmental stewardship were widely reported and appreciated. As President of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee, Dr Mahant has been instrumental in uniting and strengthening the Indian National Congress in Chhattisgarh despite various setbacks, including the dark period forced upon the party after the assassination of Congress top leaders by Maoists.

With a PhD in linguistics and degree in law, Dr Mahant has the intellectual credentials to go with his deep understanding of Chhattisgarh’s challenges and tremendous industrial and environmental potential. His interactions with global leaders include his address at the 65th meeting of the UN General Assembly in October 2010.

Dr Mahant is the second generation of Congress loyalists; his father, the late Bisahu Das Mahant was a freedom fighter and MLA, Minister, and PCC Chief Madhya Pradesh.