Vikash Sharma

Congress, the party which was in power in Odisha for decades, is now seemed to be facing a serious threat. And, many are wondering if the grand old party is losing its existence in the state. Such a debate has now also taken the centre stage in Odisha politics following the outcome of the recently concluded Padampur by-election which went in favour of the ruling BJD.

Congress candidate Satya Bhusan Sahu, who had got over 32000 votes in 2019 elections, managed to secure only 3500 votes in the Padampur bypoll and forfeited his deposit.

Three senior leaders of Odisha Congress have directly targeted the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) President for the dismal performance of the party. They have also warned that if the veteran and other senior leaders continue to remain on key posts, there is every likelihood that Congress will become extinct in Odisha.

Also Read: BJD candidate Barsha Singh Bariha wins Padampur bypoll

The poor show of Congress is not limited to Padampur bypoll only. Rather, the deposits of several Congress candidates have been forfeited in the past several elections in the state. Senior Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahini Pati alleged that all the Congress votes directly went into the BJD’s account in Padampur bypoll.

Citing people, Bahinipati said that, ‘Congress votes were sold.’ Bahinipati further questioned how the PCC president knew a day before the results that Congress would lose Padampur. Moreover, the groupism by the chief is to be blamed for such a scenario here, he said. “If we continue to get 2000, 3000 votes in elections, Congress will get completely wiped out from the state,” Bahinipati expressed concerns.

According to Bahinipati, “There needs to be a complete review as to why Congress’ votes went to the BJD. An investigation also needs to be done to find 'who has been sold and who is opposing'. The Congress chief needs to work in tandem with everybody.”

Also Read: Scanning Padampur bypoll: Five probable reasons of BJD’s win & BJP’s loss

Senior leader Sura Routray said, "I found that our leaders and workers did not reach out to people in Padampur. They only went to mark their attendance and returned after staying outside and eating meals."

Taking a dig at PCC President, Congress MLA Mohammad Moquim said, "NOTA votes and Congress vote share in Padampur are almost similar."

Moquim further stated, “People are not willing to vote for Congress by seeing the so called senior leader. Whenever there is a by-election, it is creating a golden opportunity for leaders in the party to transfer Congress votes and mint money. The party is facing such problems due to leadership issues.”

The senior MLA from Cuttack said, “Scores of workers fear to hold Congress flag in Odisha. And if such trend continues, it will be a matter of time when Congress will become extinct from Odisha.”

If we take the case of Padampur only, Congress had won the seat thrice. Congress candidate Satyabhusan Sahu was elected as MLA in 1980, 1985 and in 2004. Satyabhusan Sahu had won 42,847 votes in 2009 and 32,787 votes in 2019 and won 3594 votes in 2022. Similarly, Congress candidate from Padampur, Prakash Narayan Tripathy had secured over 31,000 votes in 2014 elections.

Senior journalist, Prasanna Mohanty said, “Congress never conducts a review or introspects after polls. We cannot rule out the allegations that Congressmen were sold during the polls.”

(Reported by Harihar Chand and Jagdish Das)