Charan Das Mahant appointed as the Congress legislative party leader in Chhattisgarh.

The Congress on Saturday named party veteran and former Chhattisgarh assembly speaker, Charan Das Mahant, as the leader of its legislative party in the state, days after suffering a massive defeat in the assembly elections at the hands of BJP.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has approved the proposal for the appointment of Mahant, a fifth-term MLA, as the CLP leader of Chhattisgarh, with immediate effect, as per a release shared by the state Congress unit.

The Congress president has also approved the proposal to continue Deepak Baij as the president of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee, as per the release issued by AICC general secretary K C Venugopal.

The new CLP leader is the Leader of the Opposition in the assembly.

Mahant had served as the Speaker in the outgoing Chhattisgarh legislative assembly.

A seasoned politician, Mahant, 69, retained the Sakti seat by defeating BJP’s Khilawan Sahu by 12,395 votes in recent elections.

Mahant, who hails from the Other Backward Class (OBC) community, was also among the front-runners for the post of Chhattisgarh chief minister along with Bhupesh Baghel, TS Singh Deo and Tamradhwaj Sahu when Congress won the assembly elections in 2018.

Mahant was elected as an MLA thrice in the undivided Madhya Pradesh and went on to serve as Home and Public Relations Department Minister in the Madhya Pradesh government (1995-1998). He has been elected twice to the Chhattisgarh assembly in 2018 and 2023.

He was elected as a member of Lok Sabha thrice in 1998, 1999 and 2009. He was appointed as Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government in 2011.

Mahant had also served as Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee president in 2013 for around six months. He had been the working president of the party’s state unit many times between 2004 and 2013, but could not bring the party to power both in the 2008 and 2013 assembly elections.

State Congress president and party MP Baij lost the recent assembly elections from the Chitrakot segment against BJP’s Vinayak Goyal by a margin of 8,370 votes.

The Congress was routed in the assembly elections in the state with the BJP winning 54 out of the 90 seats, reducing the erstwhile ruling party to 35 seats.

The newly-elected MLAs of the party on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution authorising Kharge to pick its leader in Chhattisgarh.

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Published: 16 Dec 2023, 10:37 PM IST

The Congress party has appointed Charan Das Mahant as the leader of its legislative party in Chhattisgarh. Mahant, a veteran politician and former Chhattisgarh assembly speaker, was chosen for the position following the party’s defeat in the recent assembly elections. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge approved the appointment, along with the continuation of Deepak Baij as the president of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee. Mahant, who is from the Other Backward Class community, had previously been considered for the post of Chhattisgarh chief minister. He has a long political career, serving as an MLA, minister, and member of Lok Sabha. The Congress party suffered a major defeat in the assembly elections, with the BJP winning 54 out of 90 seats.

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