By Ashutosh Mishra
Bhubaneswar: The Congress just refuses to learn from its mistakes in Odisha. Party leaders, who apparently cannot survive without the prop of Gandhi family, have shown a similar tendency even at the national level. But Odisha is perhaps the worst example of country’s oldest party turning a blind eye to the need for unity even as the state unit seems to be teetering on the verge of becoming politically irrelevant in a state where it was in the saddle till 2000.
The crushing defeat of the party in the just concluded elections ( it could manage to win just one Lok Sabha and nine assembly seats) has triggered an unseemly blame game among senior leaders instead of making them sit up and think about what went wrong. The public spat between former chief minister, Hemanand Biswal, who happens to be Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) disciplinary committee chairperson, and former union minister, Kanhu Charan Lenka marks a new low in state Congress politics.
Lenka has gone to the extent of accusing Biswal, a highly respected tribal leader, of making a tacit pact with Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) which made his daughter, Sunita Biswal the party’s Lok Sabha candidate from Sundergarh. Sunita lost and so also the Congress candidate from the seat, George Tirkey who has also hinted at internal sabotage. Former tribal affairs minister, Jual Oram won the Sundergarh seat with ease.
The obvious implication of Lenka’s accusation is that Biswal deliberately conspired with the BJD to field his daughter from the seat in order to ensure the defeat of Tirkey who was considered to be a strong candidate. The charge seems ridiculous and Biswal has rubbished it with the contempt it deserves. He has also rightly pointed out that his children are free to join and contest from any party they choose.
Strangely the verbal duel between these two leaders erupted within hours of AICC appointed party in-charge of Odisha affairs, Jitendra Singh’s warning that no indiscipline will be tolerated as complete unity within the party was the need of the hour. He has also talked tough against dissidents who tried to sabotage the prospects of party’s official candidates in different constituencies.
At a time when the process of internal churning in the party is on and a committee has been set up to review Congress’s pathetic performance in the just concluded elections the least one can expect from senior leaders like Biswal and Lenka is restraint. They should at least desist from washing their dirty linen in public.
But as someone has rightly said success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. No one wants to own responsibility for a failure and the easiest way of avoiding responsibility is by pointing accusing fingers at others. Congress leaders in Odisha have done this in the past and they are now doing this again. But this tendency is not going to help the party which seems to be sinking deeper into a crisis which is largely of its own making.
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)