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Rahul appoints tribal leader Mohan Markam as head of Cong's Chhattisgarh unit


New Delhi, Jun 28: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday appointed tribal leader Mohan Markam head of the party's Chhattisgarh unit, replacing Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.

Rahul appoints tribal leader Mohan Markam as head of Congs Chhattisgarh unit

Significantly, the AICC press statement naming Markam as the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee chief said "Congress president has appointed" instead of the "AICC" that was being used in party statements effecting organisational changes since Gandhi's decision to quit as party head. "Congress president has appointed Mohan Markam as the new president of Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee with immediate effect.

The party appreciates the contributions of outgoing PCC president Bhupesh Baghel," the AICC statement signed by general secretary organisation K C Venugopal said. Markam's elevation to the post comes at a time when the party is coming to terms with its debacle in the Lok Sabha polls in which it could win just two parliamentary seats from the state despite coming to power with a massive mandate in the December assembly poll.

Markam is a prominent tribal face of the party in the state and commands influence not only in his home region of Bastar but also in other adivasi-dominated areas. A two-time MLA from Bastar's Kondagaon Assembly constituency (ST reserved), Markam has been vocal in raising pro-farmer and pro-tribal issues. Markam, the first tribal leader to be appointed as the congress party chief in the state, rose to prominence after the 2013 Assembly election when he defeated BJP's Lata Usendi, a minister and woman tribal leader, from Kondagaon.

He succeeds Baghel, who said last week that he has asked Gandhi to appoint someone to head the state unit as he has his hands full as the chief minister. Baghel led the party to an emphatic win in the Assembly elections in December, dislodging the Raman Singh government by winning 68 out of the 90 seats that went to polls.

The appointment by Gandhi assumes significance as it comes amid uncertainty over him continuing as Congress president. He has been adamant on his decision to resign as the chief, citing accountability.

Rahul had quit taking full responsibility for the party's Lok Sabha poll debacle. He had conveyed his decision at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on May 25.

The CWC, the highest decision-making body of the party, rejected his resignation and asked him to revamp and restructure the party at all levels instead. Gandhi, in the presence of UPA chairperson and his mother Sonia Gandhi, had on Wednesday told his party's Lok Sabha members that he was no longer the Congress president as he had resigned. He had said it was up to the CWC to decide on selecting the new president.

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