Bhubaneswar, Oct 2: Infighting within faction-ridden Odisha Congress has intensified with the dissidence movement demanding change in leadership. The demand has got louder by an influential group of the party on Friday.
As such the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee(PCC) led by its President Niranjan Pattnaik had suffered a serious setback during the 2019 general elections with the party relegating to the third position in the state assembly. The party strength in the 147-member state assembly declined from 15 to 9. It won a single seat in Lok Sabha. The party lost its Leader of Opposition status in the state assembly. This demoralized the party cadres.
On the other hand, BJP got elevated to the prime opposition party by securing the strength of 23 MLAs in the State Assembly. Notably, the BJD bagged 114 seats in the state legislature
The state Congress, also in the rural body elections scored miserably in comparison with the BJP and the BJD.
Though soon after the elections demands for leadership change in the state unit started and PCC president Patnaik tendered resignation, the party high command did not take any instant action.
As a result, a number of active party leaders started secret negotiations with the BJD and BJP, the parties in power in the state and at the centre, to switch over while a few Congress leaders declared dissociation from active politics.
Disgusted over it, leaders including the elected MLAs and party functionaries declared open war against Niranjan and questioned his efficacy.
Meanwhile, the fate of Congress seems dim in Pipili by-poll. Senior leader and party MLA Suresh Kumar Routray predicted that the party will secure third position.
Meanwhile, PCC working president Pradip Majhi, who is said to be joining the BJD within a couple of days, has called on Rahul Gandhi yesterday. Though the young tribal leader ruled out his exit from the party after his meeting with Rahul, the speculation about his joining BJD prevails.
“The party is heading towards a crisis in the near future if the highcommand does not act soon”, said an insider.