Exodus threatens to derail Congress fightback in Odisha

Political experts believe that exodus of senior leaders from Congress and BJP is likely to continue and the ruling-BJD might once again have a cakewalk instead of a contest

Bhubaneswar: Ahead of the 2014 general elections two Odisha Congress heavyweights Anup Sai and Bhupinder Singh, the then Legislature Party secretary and Leader of Opposition respectively, had joined the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Well, the ghost of exodus is back and it already seems to be haunting the party, threatening to derail its plans.

Speculations are rife that the Congress strongman from western Odisha and Jharsuguda MLA Naba Das and party’s Salepur MLA Prakash Behera will join the BJD soon. While both the Congress leaders have spoken in a tone evincing their interest in the ruling party, they have so far not made any official announcements.

In an exclusive interview to OTV on Sunday, Das had said, “My supporters want me to fight the 2019 elections as a candidate of the BJD and I will do what my people want.”

He further said though he has no specific reasons to quit Congress and during Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s visit to Jharsuguda to inaugurate a cancer hospital on January 24, he will welcome the CM and accept the wish of his people.

Similarly, MLA Behera hinted at joining BJD with his statement- “BJD is doing well and in a good position right now. High command will decide whether I will fight the upcoming elections or not.” While Behera didn’t clarify to which high command he was referring to, praising the ruling party quite elucidated his intentions.

On reports of Das and Behera quitting the party, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) chief Niranjan Patnaik said that though the news is sad, it will not affect the party.

“Congress doesn’t need to fear any exodus. We want only efficient people in our party… It will have no impact on the party. Political leaders, who leave a party just ahead of elections, lack principle and they are often seen changing parties for mere benefits,” said Patnaik.

Congress’ disciplinary committee chief, Hemananda Biswal said, “I have nothing to say if he (Das) has already decided to join the BJD on January 24. Good times are ahead for the Congress after the party’s win in the three states and Das thinking of quitting during this time is unfortunate.”

He further said that when someone quits a party, it creates a void but it never goes unfilled as a party is never about an individual.

Senior Congress leader Pradeep Majhi targeted BJD president and CM Naveen and said that people of Odisha will never accept Naveen who is trying to save his position by luring leaders of other parties. “Naveen is trying to win the 2019 polls with the help of our leaders but people will reject him,” he said, adding that there is no infighting within the party.