Srikant Jena issue driving wedge between Odisha Congress leaders

Bhubaneswar: The newfound enthusiasm among Odisha Congress cadres following the success in the recently concluded Assembly Elections is continually being undermined by infighting fuelled by the issue surrounding the removal Srikant Jena from party’s manifesto committee.

While Jena and Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik had been at loggerheads, senior leader Kanhu Charan Lenka and Krushna Sagaria on Thursday targeted Odisha PCC’s disciplinary committee chairperson, Hemananda Biswal and Patnaik.

“I am saddened that repeated recommendations have been sent to AICC to take action against Srikant Jena for what he said. By taking up the matter with the media, didn’t Biswal flout the guidelines?” questioned Lenka.

He further said that the matter should have stayed within the party and resolved instead of being escalated to AICC. Hinting at ‘favoritism politics’, senior leader Sura Routray said, “I request Niranjan babu to move ahead taking along all the party members without showing partiality; all should be on one side – Congress side.”

Besides, former MLA Krushna Sagaria accused Patnaik of making casteist remarks. “It’s unfortunate that the PCC chief is yet to know the difference between cast and creed. Speaking the language of RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad doesn’t suit the Congress president. He must mend his language,” he said.

Sagaria also said that he would take up the matter with AICC president Rahul Gandhi and urge for stern action against the PCC chief.

On the other hand, PCC’s disciplinary committee chairperson said that members of the State party unit should unite leaving aside all differences.

“Odisha Congress leaders should learn from other States, where the party has shown outstanding performance, as it will be tough for the party here if they don’t contest the polls as a team,” said Biswal.