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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Congress leaders have squarely blamed the state party chief and the central leaders for the disastrous performance of the party in the ongoing three-tier Panchayat polls in the state.

“We are solely responsible for the dismal show of Congress is due to our sheer inability, indiscipline and lack of willingness to reach out to the people. We have no other option other than accepting defeat and giving respect to the people’s mandate,” senior Congress leader and former Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik told media persons here today.

Such is the dimension of the defeat of the Congress that it is yet to open its account in 18 out of 30 districts in the state after the second phase panchayat polls results of which have been declared unofficially. The party has been able to capture one Zilla Parishad (ZP) seat each in seven districts. The party has managed to win 5 ZP seats in Rayagada district and three ZP seats each in Sundargarh and Gajapati districts. However, it has put up a sterling show in Jharsuguda district by capturing 5 out of 9 ZP seats under the leadership of local MLA Naba Das and is all set to form the Zilla Parishad.

Opposition chief whip and Jeypore MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati said the Congress has pushed to the third place behind BJP in the Panchayat polls due to weak organisational leadership. “The financial strength of Congress became precarious as the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) allotted a meagre Rs 25,000 to each ZP to contest the polls. As a result, the local party leaders were frustrated and did not take any initiative.

It may be recalled that the Congress in the last Panchayat polls had won 45 ZP seats in the first two phases the number of which has come down to  almost half (25) this time. Though the number might be a little more or less, the fact remains that the Congress has nearly lost its entity in the panchayat polls this year.

Former chief minister Hemananda Biswal said the senior Congress leaders are not actively involved in the organisation of the party at the grassroots level. As a result, the party workers are unable to influence the people.

While most of the party heavyweights including the leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra have failed to ensure victory in their respective area, former MP Pradip Majhi has been able to upkeep his image by winning two ZP zones in  Nabarangpur district in two phases.

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