Odisha Pradesh Ccongress Committee (OPCC) president Jayadev Jena denies having any knowledge of internal fighting in Congress party. He added during the forthcoming elections Naveen Patnaik will face a big defeat. In a freewheeling chat with the channel the OPCC president said there is not any leadership faliure in the party. In fact during the recent civic polls he got better cooperation and support from his party colleagues than in 2008, his earlier stint as OPCC president.
Q: Don’t you think your leadership in the party is in turmoil? Who is responsible for that?
A: No, we can’t say there is a failure in leadership. In 2008 when I was president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) the party had fought municipal election and formed nine councils. Though in 2013 we headed in 12 civic bodies out of 66, the kind of cooperation I got this time is more than the previous. It is rumoured that there are differences with senior leader Niranjan Patnaik. In the recently concluded civic polls, he campaigned for the party in Basudebpur and Berhampur.
I have got specific allegations that some dissident leaders fielded independent candidates to defeat Congress candidates during the polls.
Q: It is discussed in political circles that some senior party leaders are opposing the OPCC president and making media statements against you. Allegations also are there that these dissidents supported independent candidates openly. Your comments?
A: These are all party’s internal matter and I cannot discuss openly in media.
I would try my best to sort out the issues at the PCC level. If still it remains unresolved, I would draw attention of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Vice President Rahul Gandhi and AICC General Secretary Odisha in-charge BK Hariprasad.
Regarding allegations against some party leaders of supporting independent candidates, I would say truth will come out after PCC committee submits its report.
Q: Can you tell us who are in the party opposing you and against whom the above said allegations have been made? Is there any allegation against former OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik?
A: This is party’s internal matter. How can I say anyone is opposing me when leaders are lending their support to my decision? Whenever I invite senior party leaders to join party activities, they turn up. In fact I would say in between 2004 and 2009, I was not getting as much support as OPCC president what I am getting now.
Q: Leaders such as former OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik, Soumyaranajn Patnaik, Lalatendu Mahapatra are criticising you while saying that Jena doesn’t know floor management and did not include senior leaders in election process. They also raised doubt about your leadership. Are you aware about that?
A: The kind of situation I faced during my first tenure as OPCC president, I never thought that I would be holding the same post for the second time.
When I was in charge of UP and Assam I used to meet Sonia Gandhi most of the time. AICC Vice President Rahul Gandhi visited the state and asked Srikant Jena, Lalatendu Mahaptra, Bhakta Das and me to meet him. There were never any hints that one of us will be OPCC president.
Q: In your party, senior leaders are openly challenging you. What do you say about that?
A: I have sent nearly 300 letters to senior leaders for preparation of civic polls. But to my surprise all tried to secure positions in their respective areas.
I can firmly say no one can do floor management better than me. That’s why Congress top brass decided to make me as OPCC president.
Q: So don’t you agree with that there is an open challenge from dissidents to your leadership?
A: Certainly not. Out of 400 leaders and lakhs of supporters in the state, a few are criticising me. This shows there is nothing to worry about and I don’t see them as a challenge. Niranjan is not challenging me. As a senior Congress leader his full support is with me.
Q: During Anandpur polls who had put up independent candidates?
A: That’s why I set up a committee to probe it. I don’t know the reason why Niranjan was not present in the campaign meeting in Keonjhar. Before fixing the rally date, I consulted with him and accordingly decided the date. But still, he did not turn up for the meeting.
Q: You cannot be blind to the internal fighting in the party. How do you see the chance of Congress winning 2014 election amidst this issue?
A: My inner voice says that Naveen Patnaik will face pathetic defeat in 2014 election. Congress will win this election and I repeat there is no internal fighting in the party.