Odisha Congress uncertain of retaining LoP chair

Bhubaneswar: While every political party is busy with the seat arithmetic, the Odisha unit of Congress party has conceded defeat and even expressed scepticism over retaining the seat of the Leader of Oppositions (LoP) in the State. A day before the counting of votes in the general elections in Odisha, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) President Niranjan Patnaik today said, “We are not hopeful of forming government in Odisha. Even I doubt that we may not be able to retain the Leader of Opposition chair in the State as BJP is likely to get more seats than us.”

However, Patnaik is hopeful of better performance as compared to the 2014 elections. “Congress will win more seats than the last general elections as we have given a tough fight. We will perform well in southern and coastal areas of the State, but we will not do well in north Odisha as we had expected earlier,” he added.

However, after such dismal forecast by the party chief, senior leaders came down hard on the leadership and alleged that the party is heading towards a very poor show in the election as the State guard disappointed party candidates, leaders and workers.

Lashing out at Niranjan, AICC Secretary Sarat Rout said, “Niranjan Babu (Patnaik) disappointed the party, candidates and betrayed Rahul Gandhi following which we felt helpless and orphaned. No one inquired about our preparedness for the election.”

“Those who were assigned responsibility did not carry out their work whole-heartedly. They should be held accountable for party’s poor performance in the election,” alleged senior Congress leader Jagannath Patnaik, who resigned from the party’s coordination committee and membership of election committee.

Likewise, party’s candidate for Cuttack Parliamentary constituency Panchanan Kanungo alleged that the party did not fight the election as a team. “I admit that we lacked proper coordination. Those who were responsible for the organisational activity have failed to do so,” he said.

On the other hand, senior party leader and Jepore MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati disapproved the party leaders’ allegations and said “Action should be taken against them for their comments. It is unfortunate that party leaders are reacting before media instead of discussing with the party State leadership and that too ahead of results.”