Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, May 24:
Even as the election of the Speaker is scheduled or Monday, the beleaguered Congress party in Odisha is yet to convene the meeting of its legislature party to decide on the next Leader of Opposition.
Nobody in the state leadership seems to know when the meeting will be held. PCC president Jaydev Jena is reportedly waiting for instructions from the AICC in this regard. It is not even clear whether the party would appoint an observer or depute Odisha Congress in-charge BK Hariprasad to supervise the meeting.
“I have already apprised the Central leadership and am waiting for the decision of the AICCin this regard. The MLAs will elect their leader in the Assembly before the first Assembly session starts,” said Jena. In what is clearly a face saving attempt, he said that the situation is similar in other states where too CLP leaders are to be elected.
The first session of the 15th Assembly is likely to be convened in the second week of July.
Senior leaders of the party feigned complete ignorance about the meeting.
Chairman of the party’s media cell Narsingh Mishra, the front runner in the race for the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, maintained that he had no information on when the CLP meeting will be convened.
According to party sources, the meeting is getting delayed as two groups are backing two different leaders for the crucial post. While one group is batting for Mishra,who was deputy leader of the CLP in 2004, a powerful section is said to be working overtime to ensure that the coveted post goes to Jagatsinghpur MLA Chiranjib Biswal instead.
“If one goes by legislative experience and leadership ability, former law minister Narasingha Mishra will be the ideal person to lead the party,” said a Congress MLA.
Despite one of the worst performances of the party in the state, it has managed to get the opposition leader status in the Odisha Assembly. The party has managed to get a little over 10 per cent of the seats in the 147-member Assembly.