Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 23:
Speculation over the meeting of 12 Odisha Congress legislators with the party High Command in New Delhi on Tuesday refuses to die down with the leaders speaking in different voices after their return to the city.
While senior Congress leader Lalatendu Bidyadhar (Lulu) Mohapatra has reiterated that the MLAs had approached the High Command to press for the removal of chief whip Taraparasad Bahinipati from his post, the legislators returning in packs were out of sync with each other while talking about the purpose of the visit.
Some say it was a “courtesy call”, others term it “pure coincidence” while still others insist that they had gone to “thank Rahul Gandhi”.
Prafulla Majhi, the first among the 12 MLAs to arrive here yesterday, said: “It was a courtesy call. Both our leaders (Sonia and Rahul) stay in New Delhi so we had gone to meet them. It’s not necessary to tell the Leader of the Opposition wherever we go”
When asked about senior Congress leader Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra’s claim that the leaders had gone to Delhi to seek Taraprasad Bahinipati’s removal from the post of Opposition Chief Whip, Dr Majhi quipped: “It is his personal opinion.”
However, Jharsuguda MLA Nabakishore Das expressed other views. He said that they had gone to “thank Rahul Gandhi.”
“We had gone to New Delhi to thank Rahul Gandhi for the Krushak Padyatra. When the Parliament is in session, legislators do meet their leaders in the national capital. Besides, we also invited Rahulji to Odisha,” Das said.
Notably, while Congress is represented in the Rajya Sabha by a lone member from Odisha, the party has drawn a blank in the Lok Sabha.
Given the arithmetic in the two Houses, state Congress leaders are unable to comprehend Das’ point about meeting party High Command during the Parliament session.
Congress legislator Krushna Chandra Sagaria’s reply to questions from the scribes has left everybody flummoxed. Sagaria said: “Our trip to New Delhi was not planned. Our congregation was a mere coincidence.”
“The MLAs speaking in different voices signifies that they have failed in their mission. This visit has given rise to enormous dissatisfaction in the rank and file of the party. With this, indiscipline within the party has resurfaced,” a political observer said.
On the other hand, former Congress leader from Brahmagiri Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra has maintained his stand consistently that the legislators had been to New Delhi to seek removal of Tara Prasad Bahinipati from the post of Opposition Chief Whip.
Similarly, senior leader of the party Suresh Routray said that the MLAs were in Delhi to show their strength and put forth their recommendations to accommodate their favoured ones in the Committee.
According to highly placed sources in the party, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi didn’t even offer seats to the state leaders at the Central Hall of the Parliament. The duo heard the complaints from AICC in-charge for the state BK Hariprasad while on the move in the power corridor.
However, a curt response from the Congress High Command—to meet the PCC president and resolve the issue– poured cold water on the enthusiasm of the rebels, sources in the party said.