Rahul Gandhi visit: Can Odisha Congress keep its flock together?

Bhubaneswar: These are testing times for Odisha Congress: while the party is gearing up for AICC president Rahul Gandhi’s visit on January 25, speculations are rife that a few senior leaders may quit adversely affecting the party’s prospects in the upcoming polls. Talks are doing rounds that party’s Jharsuguda MLA Naba Das and Sundergarh MLA Jogesh Singh may quit Congress ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Odisha on January 25.

However, the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief, Niranjan Patnaik today tried to put up a brave face by asserting that the party is ready for any ‘jhakta (shock).’

“I cannot believe that Naba Das will quit party. But we are ready to face any situation,” said Patnaik.

It is pertinent to mention here that Jharsuguda MLA Naba Das is constantly holding discussions with his supporters and has stated that he will decide his next course of action as per the wishes of the voters of his constituency.

“I am discussing with people. I will inform everybody whether I would stay in Congress or quit the party,” said Das.

Sundergarh MLA Jogesh Singh also echoed similar sentiments.

“I have always received the support of people of Sundergarh. I will seek their advice and go with whatever decision they take,” said Singh.

AICC president Rahul Gandhi had to skip his Odisha visit last year owing to pending organisational restructuring of the state unit. But this time, finalisation of a venue to welcome Rahul Gandhi has posed as a challenge for the State leadership.

After Paradip and Cuttack, the PCC is looking for options to hold a mega public rally of Rahul Gandhi in Bhubaneswar and the party alleged that the ruling-BJD has intentionally kept all the major venues booked in advance till March.

“All the places where public meetings are usually held in Bhubaneswar have been booked by government till March so that opposition parties cannot organise their events,” said Manas Choudhry, Bhubaneswar district president of the party.

BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra on the other hand refuted the allegations levelled by Congress and said “To hide their own incapability, they are making such absurd allegations. They (Congress) should handle their own problems instead of blaming BJD.”