Cong team to review party performance in ULB polls

Bhubaneswar: Close on the heels of defeat in ULB polls, Odisha Congress on Sunday formed a high level committee to review the party's dismal performance and find out the activities of dissidents that led to the poor show in the recently concluded urban elections.

MP Hemananda Biswal will be the chairperson of the panel while MLA Prasad Harichandan has been appointed as the convener. Other members of the committee are senior leaders Sarat Rout and Radhakant Nayak.

"We have received specific allegations against some party leaders of helping independent candidates in the civic elections. I have formed a high level committee asking it to  give report within 15 days after talking to voters and party activists in different urban bodies," said Jayadev Jena, president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC).

Sources said the State Congress was seriously contemplating about this kind of review after it tasted defeat in its strongholds such as Anandpur NAC of Keonjhar district where Congress won only three seats while BJD grabbed six wards. Surprisingly, seven seats were captured by independent candidates.

Pointing fingers towards former OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik, Anandpur Town Congress president Nikunja Bihari Mishra said, "Patnaik had fielded independent candidates for Anandpur. Even he and his relatives did a door-to-door campaigning for their candidates. The party should probe into this."

In his reaction Patnaik said, “We lost election at several places where winning was for sure. As far as Anandpur NAC is concerned, I have never visited the place. The OPCC president did not consult me about the selection of candidates and poll strategies.”

Sources added a section of Congress urged the party leadership to analyse the reasons behind the poor show as the party got clear majority only in 10 civic bodies.