Oust-Niranjan move gathers momentum

Odisha’s main Opposition party, the Congress, is now embroiled in increasing infighting to the further glee among the ruling BJD’s rank and file.

A dominant section of the State Congress is out to oust PCC president Niranjan Patnaik, who, despite being in the saddle for several months, is yet to gain control over the party. Busy in firefighting within the party, Niranjan Patnaik now hardly has time to fight against the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD Government.

At least half a dozen of the 27 MLAs and two of the six Lok Sabha members of the Congress and several other party leaders in the State are against Niranjan Patnaik’s continuance as the PCC chief. The move to dethrone him initiated by Jharsuguda MLA Naba Kishore Das, seems to be gradually snowballing into a major movement.

Das and two other MLAs and the two MPs have already taken the matter to 10 Janpath recently while three other MLAs, Surendra Singhbhoi, Dushmant Nayak and Shyam Hansda, went public in Bhubaneswar saying they want a change of guard in the PCC.

Even though AICC general secretary in charge of Odisha Jagdish Tytler has issued warning letters to Singhbhoi, Nayak and Hansda, for their “indiscipline” in the party, there is no letup in the activities of intra-party dissidence.

These three MLAs had met Union Health Minister Gulam Nabi Azad during his visit here and demanded that Niranjan Patnaik be removed as the State party is unable to confront the BJD under his leadership as is evident from the party’s poor performances in the two Assembly by-elections and panchayat polls.

They even named former senior MLA Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra as an alternative PCC chief. Mohapatra also defended these MLAs saying they did not indulge in any anti-party activities. “What was wrong in taking party matter to Mr Azad who had remained AICC general secretary in charge of Odisha three times in the past,” he asked.

The wrangling within the Congress has, needless to say, left the BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik and other leaders of the ruling party further confident about the BJD’s continuance as the predominant political force in the State. After all, municipal polls are to be held next year and the general elections in 2014. As such, the Congress is out of power in the State since 2000.

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