Srikant-Niranjan war of words exposes chinks in Congress armour

At a time when Congress was seen taking off after several electoral disappointments, instead of strategising to take on the BJD and BJP in coming elections, the Tara-Sagaria fight has also exposed infighting within the party and certainly sounded alarm bells

Bhubaneswar: Disappointing though for the oldest party in the country, the latest war of words between Srikant Jena and Niranjan Patnaik today, after the former’s removal from the party’s manifesto committee for the 2019 polls, clearly doesn’t augur well for rank and cadres besides supporters of the Congress.

Jena today brought allegations against Niranjan of running the party on hereditary and family basis besides charging him of involvement in corruption. He also said that the party will get defunct in the State if his words are not taken into account. However, the OPCC chief took a dig at Jena by calling him a storyteller.

“Srikant babu is a senior leader and he sometimes tells stories; there was a time when he even told several things about Biju babu. Whether there is transparency in Congress or not, time will tell and Jena will know it at the appropriate time,” said the OPCC chief.

On Patnaik’s storytelling jibe, Jena further said that one needs regular practice to tell stories. He also questioned the intention of Odisha government behind not making names of the ‘mine looters’ public.

Referring to the alleged involvement of Patnaik in mining corruption, Jena said: “If he (Patnaik) had done any business, he will answer… that is up to him.”

On the other hand, Tara Prasad Bahinipati said that the remarks of Jena are affecting the party’s prospects in the State and at a time when Congress is in shape under the new chief, Jena seems uncomfortable and making things difficult.

“Had he raised voice during his term, it would have benefited minority and backward classes in getting jobs. A person who didn’t even believe Biju babu, can never believe us,” said the party chief whip, adding that AICC chief Rahul Gandhi will look into Jena’s matter.

Moreover, former party legislator Krushna Chandra Sagaria (on Jena’s mines remark) said, “40 lakh youths in Odisha are unemployed and government is showing several dreams of industries and mines; and if someone will be called anti-party for questioning it, I have nothing to say.”

It is being discussed that such infighting will definitely affect the party’s prospects and weaken its organisation with the 2019 general elections a few months away.