Jayadev replaces Niranjan as OPCC chief

Bhubaneswar: After months of speculation, following Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi hinted a ‘change’ in party’s Odisha unit during his state visit in February, curtain fell with the appointment of senior Congress leader Jayadev Jena as the chief of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) on Monday.

An official communiqué from All India Congress Committee said, Jena replaced Niranjan Pattnaik with immediate effect.
“The Congress President Sonia Gandhi has approved the proposal for appointing Jayadev Jena as president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee in place of Niranjan Patnaik with immediate effect,” it said.

Jena, a former OPCC president is also AICC general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh and Assam. He earlier headed the party for four years and eight months prior to 2009 general elections.

The party’s state unit witnessed the significant development days after Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das was appointed as the AICC spokesperson by the party president.

On April 24, four senior party leaders from the State – Jayadev Jena, Union Minister Srikant Jena, MP Bhakta Charan Das and senior leader Lulu Mohapatra – had discussed the party’s organizational issues with Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi.

“Rahulji said that he would take a call on party’s organisational issues in Odisha in consultation with Sonia Gandhi. We have already given our response on the matter twice earlier as asked by him,” Jena had said after the meeting.

On the other hand, after Rahul’s Odisha visit, speculation was rife that the Congress heir apparent wanted to bring a change in the party organization after he expressed his willingness to know as to “why Congress has become so weak in Odisha."

Rahul, who visited the state for the first time after being elevated as AICC's second in command had wanted to strengthen the party organisation at grassroots level so that Congress can take on the ruling BJD effectively after it lost three consecutive Assembly elections in Odisha since 2000.