Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 22:
Denying reports of a rift in the Odisha unit of the party, Congress MLAs Prafulla Majhi and Krushna Chandra Sagaria, who returned here today after meeting AICC president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi yesterday, have said it was a ‘courtesy call’.
“It was totally a courtesy call. There was no agenda like that,” Majhi told reporters at the Biju Patnaik airport on his return from the national capital this morning.
Majhi and Sagaria were among the 12 MLAs who met the party high command yesterday raising speculation about the return of dissidence in the state unit of the party in the process.
Asked why the PCC president and the Leader of Opposition were kept in the dark about the visit if it was only a ‘courtesy call;, Majhi said; “It’s not necessary to tell the Leader of the Opposition wherever we go. We had no agenda. Had there been an agenda, we would have certainly informed him. I have told you at the beginning that our leader stays in Delhi. Is there a problem if we go to meet them there? Where exactly is the problem?”
He said there was no problem in 12 party MLAs going jointly to meet the party high command adding that there was nothing improper in doing that.
However, the other Congress legislator Krushna Chandra Sagaria, who returned to Bhubaneswar along with Majhi today, was quite defensive.
“We had gone on an exposure visit since yesterday was the first day of the current session of the Parliament. All leaders and MPs meet each other there. I was a courtesy visit. We had gone there to meet all. We had all come to Delhi for different works and it was a coincidence that we met each other at the Parliament. It was a courtesy call by all legislators on our party high command. Since the State Assembly session will commence on the 18th of next month, we had gone there to collect views on some issues. It was a personal visit. There was no political agenda with regard to removal or rehabilitation of anybody.”
Though the MLAs have claimed their meetings with Sonia and Rahul as a courtesy call, reliable sources said that these legislators have together spoken extensively against the party leadership in the state before the high command.
Beginning from the PCC allegedly ignoring legislators in the reorganization of the party organization to weak performance of the Opposition in the Assembly, everything was in the list of complaints that these MLAs reportedly raised before the party high command. These legislators also sought more powers for the deputy leader of the Opposition Chiranjeev Biswal and Jharsuguda MLA Naba Das, the sources added.
But a curt, single line response from the Congress president poured cold water on the enthusiasm of the rebels, sources in the party said. The ‘high command’ advised them to meet the PCC president and siscuss the issues, the sources revealed.
These MLAs will meet the PCC president in the presence of AICC in-charge for the state BK Hariprasad to discuss the issues, revealed a MLA on condition of anonymity.
The high command giving an appointment to meet these legislators in Parliament has raised many eyebrows in the political circles. Political observers feel that this meeting was of no importance to the high command.
It was senior party leader Lalatendu Bidyadhar (Lulu) Mohapatra, who had spilled the beans yesterday about the visit leading to chaos and confusion in the rank and file of the party.
The former Brahmagiri MLA Tuesday revealed to reporters that the delegation was in Delhi to complain about the functioning of Opposition Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati.
On the other hand, reacting to the developments, Bahinipati had Tuesday termed it as “an attempt to break the zeal and enthusiasm of the Congress workers”.
“I have nothing to say about who went to Delhi and who didn’t. I don’t have mining money like others and that’s why I don’t visit Delhi often. I didn’t even know about the meeting. Nobody told me about it before I got to know about it from the media. I have absolute trust on the Gandhi family and that trust will remain unshaken,” he had said on Tuesday.