Bhubaneswar, June 27: Following growing resentment against Odisha Congress leadership in the party, which is struggling to regain its foothold in the state, the Central leadership is reportedly mulling over changing its guard.
Party sources said that appointment of new president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) and other office-bearers is likely in the near future as a large group of dissident Congress leaders have been openly expressing their disappointment against the state president. Many of them are demanding a change of guard in the state unit.
If party sources are to be believed, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has not formed her team since she took over after her son Rahul Gandhi resigned from the post last July, owning responsibility for the Congress’ debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
In the context of Odisha, amid the growing resentment against the state president and infighting following the party’s serious drubbing in the 2019 general elections, the party continues to struggle with the leadership issue.
Many frontline Congress leaders, including one or two sitting MLAs, are in the mood to change party if the AICC does not pay heed to their demand to change the state president. The dissident leaders are mulling to meet the AICC leadership in New Delhi to mount pressure, said a party insider.
Several names have surfaced in the run for the new OPCC president including Jeypore MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati, state Congress working president Pradeep Majhi, Barabati-Cuttack MLA Mohammad Moquim, AICC members Rama Chandra Khuntia and Sarat Rout, Bhakta Charan Das and former OPCC president Sarat Patnaik.
The opposition to OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik’s leadership surfaced further in the wake of the party’s dismal performance in Bijepur bypoll that secured only 5,873 votes. Earlier, the party had won three consecutive elections in Bijepur in 2004, 2009 and 2014.
In fact, Niranjan had tendered resignation from the OPCC president post owning up responsibility for the party’s debacle in both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections last year as the party lost the Opposition party status for the first time in 19 years to the BJP, but the AICC did not accept his resignation.