Bhupesh Baghel revived the Congress in Chhattisgarh after the party's frontline leadership was wiped out in a Maoist attack in 2013.
R Krishna Das reports.
Late on September 18, Bhupesh Baghel asked his staff to prepare to leave for Bilaspur, 160 km away from the state capital Raipur. He brushed aside suggestions that it was not safe to travel by roads under construction.
Baghel reached Bilaspur by midnight and straightaway went to the hospital where scores of Congress workers were recuperating from injuries sustained in a police lathi-charge.
As Chhattisgarh's Congress president, that Baghel reached Bilaspur immediately after the incident enthused party workers.
Baghel was assigned the Congress leadership in Chhattisgarh after the party's frontline leadership was wiped out in a deadly Maoist attack in Darba, Bastar, in 2013.
Baghel put Dr Raman Singh's Bharatiya Janata Party government in the dock on many issues. Congress workers were energised to take on the BJP after Baghel did not miss any opportunity to attack the BJP government and Dr Singh.
Born on August 23, 1961 to a farmer's family, Baghel joined the Indian Youth Congress in 1985 and held the position of president, IYC Durg district (Rural) from 1990 to 1994.
He entered the Madhya Pradesh assembly from Patan in 1993 and retained the seat in 1998. Baghel was a minister of state in Digvijay Singh's ministry and held the key post of public grievances attached to the chief minister. He was given the portfolio of transport in December 1999.
After Chhattisgarh was formed, Baghel became the new state's first minister for revenue, public health engineering and relief work.
In the first assembly election in 2003, the Congress was defeated, but Baghel retained his seat. He lost the 2008 election, but returned to the assembly in 2013. He was deputy leader of the Opposition in the Chhattisgarh assembly from 2003 to 2008.
Baghel hails from the Kurmi community that has a large representation in the state.
Besides politics, Baghel has been organising mass marriage ceremonies to reduce spending on weddings.
On September 24, 2018, he was remanded to judicial custody for 14 days by a Special Central Bureau of Investigation court after the CBI filed a chargesheet against him and others in connection with the circulation of a 'fake' CD that purportedly showed a senior BJP minister in a compromising position in October 2017.
Baghel refused bail, claiming that the government was trying to implicate him for planning a black flag demonstration against Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi.
He was sent to Raipur Central Jail, and after much persuasion, as elections were around the corner, he applied for bail and was released.
Later, a CD purportedly showing himself criticising the Congress's central official in charge of Chhattisgarh went viral.
Earlier, he was accused of taking over land in Patan that was donated to a school. He fought the case legally and won.