Knives out after Congress retains Niranjan Patnaik as Odisha unit chief

Bhubaneswar: A day after All India Congress Committee (AICC) dissolved the office bearers and committees of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC), knives are out again within the regional unit which seems divided on the decision of party high command to allow Niranjan Patnaik to continue as party chief.

The decision comes after a delegation of some Congress leaders from the State placed a demand before the AICC to allow Niranjan to continue as PCC chief in view of the upcoming civic body polls.

Taking a jibe, former Congress MP Amar Pradhan today stated that, “Niranjan Patnaik is a clever businessman, but he could not become a successful politician. People did not accept Congress as he (Niranjan) promoted dynasty politics.”

“He (Niranjan) made Congress a family affair. His son contested the polls and many others were allowed for which party suffered,” said Pradhan.

Not only Pradhan, senior leader and AICC secretary, Sarat Rout had raised fingers at the party’s leadership recently and asserted that “Congress should not be destroyed for protecting self interests.”

However, the supporters of Niranjan claim that instead of indulging in mudslinging, it is now time to get united and work for the revival of the party.

“I urge all the leaders of the party to work together,” said senior leader Suresh Routray.

“For us nothing has changed as Niranjan was the chief and he still is. What will be his working style going forward will be known after he returns,” said Congress leader, Jayadev Jena.

It is pertinent to mention here that ahead of the 2019 Elections; Niranjan had created a ‘jumbo team’ comprising 138 office bearers. Though Niranjan’s jumbo team was dissolved by AICC president Sonia Gandhi yesterday, Niranjan, Pradip Majhi and Chiranjibi Biswal were retained in their previous posts.

Odisha Congress vice-president, Anant Sethi, however, stated that the wind of change is in the air and more changes are in the offing.

“The process of change has already begun and there was a need to dissolve the committees,” said Sethi.

Sources said AICC has directed Niranjan Patnaik to submit a blueprint on the new team of Odisha Congress within 15 days. However, he has been asked to keep the size of the team small this time, informed sources.