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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: The interminable tussle within the Odisha Congress has surfaced again following a meeting among youth and some senior leaders at Panthanivas in Bhubaneswar today on the prospects of party and the leadership. The open infighting took a serious turn after a team of Odisha Congress proposed to elevate Cuttack-Barabati MLA Mohammed Moquim to the position of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president.

"Given the fact that the party has become directionless under the leadership of present OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik, there is little doubt that Patnaik can take the responsibility ahead. Odisha Congress needs a leader who is dynamic, conventional and has an uncompromising mentality, and Mohammed Moquim is perfect for the role," stated a release issued after the meeting.

The team opposing Patnaik's leadership also mentioned that the people of Odisha have become repugnant seeing the performance of Congress in the recent general elections and also panchayat elections held two years back.

The release further mentioned, "Complaining about being neglected and some leaders getting undue favours, many senior leaders of Congress switched to other parties. This did not go well with people who tagged it a 'sign-board party'. This has posed a major challenge for us now. As a team, we need to fight BJD and BJP and highlight their irregularities and failures at the grassroots."

Congress leader Bapi Sarkhel rued, "The meeting is not a conspiracy against anyone, rather we are trying to strengthen the party right from the grassroots. The current scenario of Congress in Odisha is deplorable if you see the vote percentage and the number of seats the party possesses. However, Mohd Moquim Cuttack gave a tough fight and eventually won in Cuttack, which had been BJD's territory for many years. Naturally, Moquim has leadership capacity and people have accepted him. Odisha Congress definitely needs a change of guard and a young leader like Moquim is fit. But the decision still lies on AICC."

Sources said a team of Odisha Congress is likely to meet AICC president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi in the first week of November and submit a unanimous proposal to make Cuttack-Barabati MLA Mohammed Moquim the OPCC chief.

In response, Niranjan Patnaik requested to relieve him from the party responsibilities. "Party members should refrain from convening such factional closed-door meetings and not tarnish Congress' image anymore. Those who want to take over reins of Odisha Congress, please let me know, I will recommend the names to AICC," said the Odisha Congress president.

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