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Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: Even as speculations over change of guard in Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) continues to heat up, senior leader and member of Congress Working Committee (CWC) Rama Chandra Khuntia on Sunday said no such proposal has been made as of now.

Asked about whether any discussion on the appointment of new State party chief will be held when the CWC meets tomorrow (August 24), Khuntia clarified that no such discussion is usually held during the meeting and apart from that proposal has not been made in this regard.

Khuntia said the selection of PCC chief and general secretary comes under the purview of All India Congress Committee (AICC) president and its general secretary in-charge of Odisha, Jitendra Singh will take a decision in this regard.

He said various issues particularly rising Covid-19 cases, failure of the centre and the state governments in controlling the pandemic, unemployment problems, farmers and labourers issues and China border tension will be among the major issues which are likely to be discussed in the CWC meeting.

“As the tenure of Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi ended on August 10, decision will be taken on the selection of new chief,” Khuntia added.

He admitted that there is delay in reorganisation of block committees, district committees and PCCs and said that should be done immediately. “The organisations have vital role in this Covid-19 situation and during upcoming by-polls. I think AICC will take decision in this regard soon,” he added.

Former OPCC chief Jayadev Jena blamed lack of coordination for the current situation of Congress in the State. “Only after the CWC meeting, things will be clear as to what will happen in Odisha,” Jena said.

Congress leader and MLA Sura Routray said AICC chief should reorganise various committees soon as it will strengthen the party organisation at the grass-root level. Asked about the party’s preparation for the upcoming by-polls in the State, he said, “We have almost finalised candidates for the ensuing polls.”

Meanwhile, ahead of the crucial meeting several Congress leaders including Bapi Sarkhel, Sangram Jena, Manas Choudhry and Satya Nayak assembled at MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati’s residence as he reportedly hosted a party on the occasion of Nuakhai.

Speaking to media persons, Bahinipati said he is not lobbying for the OPPC president’s post, but will not certainly miss if given the chance.

"I was No 1 constable, became No 1 legislator and will be No 1 Odisha PCC president if I get the post. Though I have hope for the post, I am not lobbying for it. I don't demand it but will not certainly miss it if given chance," Bahinipati said.

Congress MLA from Mohana, Dasarathi Gomango and Sanakhemundi MLA Ramesh Jena also backed Bahinipati as the next Odisha PCC chief.

"In this situation, Bahinipati will be the best PCC chief. The way he counters the State government indicates that he can take the party ahead," Dasarathi said.

Jena echoed the same views and said, “Bahinipati is like an elder brother to me. I will follow his footsteps wherever he goes. If he is elevated to the top post, the number of Congress MLAs in Odisha will increase to 90 from existing nine.”

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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