Bhubaneswar: Is Prasad Harichandan, the present Chief of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee(OPCC) going to be booted out? Will veteran Congressman and former OPCC President Niranjan Pattanaik stage a comeback? Or will it be someone else like Bhakta Das from the dalit community?
Though the answers to these million dollar questions would be known after National President Sonia Gandhi takes her final call on receipt of the report of the three-member fact finding team of AICC observers, one thing is sure, the Congress legislature party has strongly pitched in favour of Niranjan Pattanaik as the next PCC Chief and Prasad has been completely cornered.
A few hours before the legislators were to meet the AICC observers, the law makers of the grand old party along with Rajya Sabha MP Ranjib Biswal huddled together at the residence of Leader of Opposition(LoP) Narasingha Mishra and chalked out strategy to put forth their unanimous stake before the Central team.
“We jointly appraised our demand to bring back Niranjan Patnaik as the next PCC president. Infighting in the party led to OPCC’s downfall,” said party Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati said.
However, Niranjan Pattanaik who too had a meeting with the Central team trudging a cautious line was tight lipped, only telling in an one-liner,”I want the Congress to be really strong in the state.”
The three Central observers Jitendra Singh, Tamrdhwaj Sahu and Gaurav Gogoi deliberated twice with LoP Narasingha . once when in the presence of the group of MLAs and then talked to him individually.
Rajya Sabha MP Ranjib Biswal stressed on total unity in the party to fight its opposition parties. “We stressed on better coordination among party leaders. We apprised the observers of all whatever they wanted to know from us. If they feel any need of a leadership reshuffle, they may report it to the party High Command,” Ranjib told media persons after the meeting.
Interestingly, the MLAs rejected the proposal of the observers who were interested to meet the legislators individually and instead suggested for a joint meeting in a ploy to stand solidly behind Niranjan’s cause.
The Central observers discussed party affairs with former chief minister Hemananda Biswal, former PCC presidents like Niranjan Patnaik , Jayadev Jena, and Sarat Patnaik and others.
Former Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal said, “I have given a list of written suggestions. At least 10 meetings in 10 zones every month is a must and that can lead to resurgence of the party.”
At the end of the two-day hectic parleys with district presidents , law makers and senior as well as young leaders of the party, the Odisha In-Charge B K Hariprsad today late evening told the media,”We discussed about the party’s internal affairs and its present situation in the state and also about change of guard in the OPCC” adding “the team will submit its report to the High Command and discuss everything threadbare with Rahul Gandhi.”
However, Congress insiders revealed that it is former Union Minister Jitendra Singh who holds the key so far as the crucial decision on change of guard in the Congress is considered since he is known for his extremely close relationship with both Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi.
From Congress Bhawan in Bhubaneswar the focus has now clearly shifted to 10, Janpath, New Delhi.