Row over chief whip post: Cong leaders meet Rahul

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Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: Amid speculation about a growing demand in the Congress party to replace Opposition chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati, three party leaders – Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) chief Prasad Harichandan and legislators Naba Kishore Das and Bahinipati – called on party vice president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Monday.

Das is believed to be a strong contender for the post in the event of Bahinipati being asked to quit.

What exactly transpired at the meeting is yet to be made public by the party, but sources said the discussion centred around the ‘growing dissidence’ in the party.

After the meeting Harichandan said, “We met Rahul Gandhi. We discussed about party’s programmes and future course of action.”

However besides Das, the name of Talsara legislator Prafulla Majhi is being talked in the political sphere as the possible candidate if Das is not named for the post.

“If party feels so, then I am ready for every new responsibility. Whatever charge I will be given, I am ready to accept this. But I am no such intention for the post,” Majhi said.

Before leaving for New Delhi yesterday, the Jeypore legislator had said, “We will meet Rahul Gandhi tomorrow. I know the Gandhi family will not do injustice towards me. And I am not hungry for the post.”

On June 1, a closed door meeting of the State Congress with sitting MLAs of the party had fuelled speculation that the meeting had been convened to discuss infighting in the party and the demand to replace Bahinipati.

The party top brass, however, had rejected the claim saying that the discussion at the meeting centred around the party’s future plan for agitation over implementation of Forest Right Act.

Bahinipati too had denied any talk on replacing him took place at the meeting. “Nobody raised anything against me in the meeting where I was present,” Bahinipati had aid.

Most recently, some incidents in the party have fuelled talks of a plan to unite the senior members. Some leaders had recently discussed party affairs with vice president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi.

A group of MLAs had earlier demanded before the Congress heir apparent to change Bahinipati as Opposition chief whip. Senior leader Hemananda Biswal and Niranjan Patnaik had also toured Delhi and met the high command over some internal party matters.

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