Cong brings back ex-Lanjigarh MLA Sivaji Majhi to party fold

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) which had suspended Lanjigarh MLA Shivaji Majhi from the party for not abiding by a party whip meant for Rajya Sabha election held in 2010, today brought him back to the party fold.

Besides, former Kandhamal MP Nakula Nayak also joined the Congress.

Welcoming the two party leaders at Congress Bhawan here, PCC president Prasad Harichandan said the return of Majhi will bolster the party organisation in Kalahandi district while Nayak’s return will further strengthen the party in Kandhamal district.

“As the BJD government is pursuing anti-Dalit and anti-tribal policy, joining of Nakula Nayak will strengthen the party base in Kandhamal district while the home coming of Sivaji Majhi will further strengthen the party in Kalahandi district”, Harichandan pointed out.

He said the two leaders have been re-inducted into the party following the decision of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) on the basis of the recommendation by the Kalahandi and Kandhamal Congress Committees.

“Majhi belongs to Congress. I am happy that he has joined the party today. I am hopeful that he can work for the people of Lanjigarh block as well as for the Congress. Since he was the MLA of Lanjigarh, he has his party organisation in the area. His joining will certainly benefit the party”, senior Congress leader and former Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das told media persons.

“We decided to bring back Majhi to Congress after we felt that he was innocent”, Kalahandi District Congress Committee president Gobardhan Das said.

Majhi and his party colleague and Rajgangpur MLA Gregory Minz had abstained from voting during the last Rajya Sabha polls in 2010 flouting the party whip. Their absence had ensured the victory of the BJD’s fourth candidate Baishnab Parida.

The suspension of Majhi came on June 14, 2011 within a week of the release of an audio tape, which claimed that two ministers of the Naveen Patnaik ministry – Pushpendra Singhdeo and Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak – had negotiated with Majhi to refrain from voting in the polls.

Three years later, OPCC revoked the suspension of Majhi on January 29, 2014. But he later joined the BJP on March 9, 2015 after he was not given tickets to contest the Assembly elections.

“I had a difference of opinion with the party in 2014 after I was not given ticket to contest the Assembly elections for which I had joined the BJP. But after realising the attitude of the BJP towards the dalits and tribals, I decided to return to Congress,” Majhi told media persons here.

Former Kandhamal MP Nakula Nayak said Kandhamal has become the most affected district during the 17-year rule of the BJD government as nearly 80,000 people have rendered homeless while more than one lakh people have left the district due to communal riots.

“Both the BJD and the BJP have squarely failed in restoring normalcy in Kandhamal district till date”, he pointed out.

Notably, Nayak had begun his political career by joining BJD. However, he turned out as a rebel after being denied a party ticket to contest the Assembly elections in 2009. Later, he left the party and joined Samajwadi Party and got elected to Lok Sabha from Kandhamal constituency in the year 2009. But he lost to BJD candidate Pratyusha Rajeswari in the Lok Sabha election in 2014.