The Congress government in Chhattisgarh on Thursday appointed 32 party leaders, including four MLAs and some former lawmakers, to top positions of various boards, corporations and commissions in the state.
The development, which comes amid the political crisis in Rajasthan, is being viewed by the opposition BJP as an effort to pacify MLAs while claiming that there is "huge discontent" among the ruling party leaders. The state Congress, however, denied such claims.
Four Congress MLAs are among the 32 leaders appointed as chairmen, vice chairmen and members of various state-run bodies wherein the ruling party has tried to strike a caste and regional balance.
Fourteen Congress leaders from Raipur division, six from the tribal-dominated Bastar division and four leaders each from Surguja, Durg and Bilaspur divisions have been appointed to various boards, corporations, commissions and other state-run agencies.
Of these 32 leaders, eight belong to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), five are from the Scheduled Tribe (STs) and two from Scheduled Castes (SC) while three belong to minority communities.
Devendra Bahadur Singh, the legislator from Basna constituency in Mahasamund district, has been appointed chairman of the State Forest Development Corporation, while Raipur-North MLA Kuldeep Juneja is made chairman of the state Housing Board, according to a government spokesperson.
Similarly, Durg MLA Arun Vora and Narayanpur legislator Chandan Kashyap have been appointed as chairmen of State Warehousing Corporation Limited and Hastshilp Vikas Board, respectively.
Former MP Karuna Shukla has been made chairperson of the Social Welfare Board, while former Raipur Mayor Kiranmayee Nayak has been appointed head of the state women's commission. Shukla is the niece of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Besides, former MLA Mahant Ram Sundar Das has been appointed chairman of the Rajya Gau Sewa Aayog, and another ex-legislator Padma Manhar has been made member of the State Scheduled Castes Commission, according to the spokesperson.
With these appointments, total 25 Congress MLAs have been given key postings in the last three days in the state.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday appointed 15 Congress MLAs as parliamentary secretaries and assigned them to assist 12 cabinet ministers in the state.
On Wednesday night, the state government appointed six MLAs as chairmen and vice-chairmen of two development authorities.
Senior BJP MLA and former minister Brijmohan Agrawal on Wednesday said the ruling Congress hurriedly decided to appoint its party legislators as parliamentary secretaries and intensified the process of appointment in boards and corporations "out of fear" after political unrest began in Rajasthan.
He claimed there is a "huge discontent" among Congress legislators in the state.
Hitting back at the opposition, Chhattisgarh Congress spokesperson RP Singh said the BJP has been struggling to save its existence after facing a massive defeat in last state Assembly polls and making such statements "out of fear and frustration".
"People have full faith in the Congress government in Chhattisgarh. The BJP's strength in the Assembly does not even match the number of parliamentary secretaries we have. They are giving such statements out of fear and frustration," Singh said.
In the 90-member state assembly, the Congress has 69 MLAs while the BJP has 14 legislators. The Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have four and two members, respectively.
The Marwahi Assembly seat is lying vacant following the death of former chief minister and JCC (J) MLA Ajit Jogi in May.