Column: Signs of Unrest In Congress

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: With despondency growing and future appearing bleak in the wake of yet another defeat, this time in a by-poll, younger generation Congress leaders in the state are becoming impatient. The campaign for the removal of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, Niranjan Patnaik, launched at a meeting of party leaders at Panth Nivas in the state capital, is an indication of this.

The core group driving the campaign consists of young leaders and Mohammad Muquim, a first time MLA who the rebels want to succeed Patnaik, is also comparatively young. He has the right amount of aggression and is resourceful to boot. Whether he has any charisma or not only the future will tell but then Congress in Odisha singularly lacks charismatic leaders at the moment.

The rebels appear more keen on installing a leader who is fresh and dynamic with belief in the future of the party. They want to get rid of the existing set-up which seems to be just carrying on without any hope for the future. For those pushing for change Muquim, despite his inexperience, can be trusted with the leadership for the simple fact that he is willing to look forward and take the party ahead.

There is no denying the growing frustration among Congress leaders. The party, which was ejected from power in the state in 2000, has since not shown any signs of revival. Instead, it has been going from bad to worse, the crushing defeat in the recently concluded Bijepur assembly bye-election being the latest in a series of debacles.

The humiliation of the party has been complete with its Bijepur candidate, Dilip Panda losing his security deposit. He is the third Congress leader to lose his deposit in the constituency since the seat fell vacant following the death of party veteran, Subal Sahu in 2017. In the bye-election held in the wake of Sahu’s demise his wife, Rita Sahu contested and won as a Biju Janata Dal candidate while Congress nominee, Pranay Sahu failed to save his deposit.

In the general elections held earlier this year chief minister, Naveen Patnaik contested from the seat along with his pocket borough of Hinjili in Ganjam. He won Bijepur comfortably but Congress’s Ripunath Seth lost his deposit. Now in this bye-election necessitated by Patnaik’s resignation from the seat Congress candidate, Dilip Panda has met the same fate.

This is a sad state of affairs for a party that had won the seat thrice between 2004 and 2014. Congress is on a downslide across the state, a fact evident from its plunging numbers in the assembly where it has now been reduced to a single digit party. With just nine seats in the House, it has even lost the main opposition party tag to the BJP.

On life support system the Congress desperately needs a leader who can turn around its fortunes in the state. But such a leader will not be easy to find. Hence, nothing should be done in a hurry. Change for the sake of change is not going to take the party anywhere.

(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)