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Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: Not only saving its bastions, but Congress seems to be now struggling to save its base in Odisha as it lost the principal opposition status after party’s poor performance in the recently-concluded general elections. The grand old party could only win nine Assembly seats in Odisha.

Taking moral responsibility of party’s drubbing defeat; Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Niranjan Patnaik announced his resignation from the post. Not only Patnaik, senior leader Bhakta Das also resigned as chairman of party’s election campaign committee. Jagannath Patnaik also had tendered his resignation from the coordination committee day-before yesterday.

“I have already offered to step down from Odisha PCC president post,” said Niranjan Patnaik.

“We failed to ensure that the Congress manifesto reached the people. The leaders who were in charge are responsible for the poll debacle,” said Bhatka Das.

The Congress which had won 38 seats in the 2004 elections was reduced to 27 seats in 2009. The party could only manage to win 16 seats in 2014 elections. The party failed to attain double digits and only managed to win nine seats this time in 2019.

It is pertinent to mention here that Niranjan Patnaik took the helm of Congress affairs in Odisha when the party was going through a rough phase in April 2018. It was hoped that the party would sail through the 2019 elections under his leadership. However, things got from bad to worse when several leaders including sitting MLAs quit Congress expressing displeasure over ticket distribution.

“Congress lost a golden opportunity in 2019 which the party failed to capitalise. Congress needs young and dynamic leaders who can take the party forward in the State,” said senior journalist Prasanna Mohanty.

Senior Congress leader Suresh Routray, who won from Jatni Assembly constituency, however came in defence of PCC president and stated that blaming Niranjan Patnaik for the poll debacle is not justified.

“It is only Niranjan Patnaik who funded the polls. He should stay as PCC president and I will also speak to AICC president Rahul Gandhi,” said Routray.

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