Ramesh Jena arrest: Congress in a fix over IG office gherao

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha unit of the Congress party has tied itself in knots over the scheduled gherao of IG (central range) office on March 11 to protest the arrest of the party’s former MLA Ramesh Jena with party leaders divided on the issue.

While party’s senior leaders, including chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati, Lalatendu Bidyadhar (Lulu) Mohapatra and Jayadev Jena, have ‘strongly’ supported the scheduled assembly on March 11 in Ganjam, the silence of party’s State chief Prasad Harichandan has fuelled talk of his disapproval of the move.

“We will gherao the IG office (southern range) to protest the arrest of our former legislator Ramesh Jena. After his arrest, the PCC chief had sent me to Ganjam to take stock of the situation. We are going to gherao the IG office as per schedule,” party’s senior leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati stressed.

The opposition chief whip’s sentiment was echoed by Mohapatra, who had hogged media headlines earlier this month for constituting ‘Lulu Sena’ (followers of Lulu) after reports that he was being sidelined by the party chief for backing pelting of eggs on ministers.

“We will support and attend the gherao call given by the chief whip. I am sure the Congress party will also stand behind us,” Mohapatra stated.

Senior leader and former OPCC chief Jayadev Jena also stressed that Jena’s arrest would figure in the meeting of the extended executive committee of the party on March 13.

“Besides the arrest of Jena, the State government’s complicity in the chit fund scam and its failures in other areas would figure in the meeting. The ensuing panchayat polls will also be our focus,” Jena said.

With just a day to go for the gathering, Harichandan is yet to come out in public on the issue. However, a party spokesperson said the decision of the party chief will be final.

“Only the PCC chief can tell about the proposed gherao of IG office. We believe that he is having consultations with other senior leaders of the party over the matter. Whatever it is, his decision will be final and it will be accepted by all,” Congress spokesperson Ganeswar Behera said.