Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 3:
On a day when the all-party meeting called by senior Congress leader and Odisha Leader of Opposition (LoP) Narasingha Mishra dominated the political affairs of the state, the conspicuous absence of PCC President Prasad Harichandan from the meeting and statements of other top leaders of the party made factions evident in Odisha Congress.
Adding fuel to the fire, PCC Chief Harichandan refused to issue a statement and clarify his stand.
On the other hand, another senior Congress leader and former union minister Srikant Jena said that he was not even invited to the event.
“I was neither invited nor did I participate in that meeting. Both BJD and BJP are accused. What do we discuss with them? We had a party meeting last Sunday where we decided to go to the people of the state and tell them how BJD and BJP jointly made a mess of the situation,” said Jena.
Curiously, while some of the top leaders including former PCC President Niranjan Patnaik and Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra did reach the meeting venue, they didn’t participate in the meeting.
Even though Niranjan clarified that they took a decision on the spot to be represented only by the MLAs of the party, Biju Janata Dal produced a leaflet before the press that said that PCC President Prasad Harichandan did not endorse the meeting.
It may be mentioned here that collision course between the LoP and PCC Chief is nothing new.
Recently, days after Harichandan visited Gumudumaha along with a team of central Congress leaders to study the Kandhamal firing incident, Mishra led a separate team there. Besides, on the Mahanadi issue, Mishra led a team of MLAs to Chhattisgarh the same day central leader Jayaram Ramesh spoke of the Congress team visit to Chhattisgarh.
Mishra, however, refuted any dissent.
“I do not know what he said about it. It is not necessary to call everyone everywhere. We had called the MLAs and here we have 14 MLAs present out of our 16,” said Mishra when asked to comment on BJD’s allegation and Jena’s statement after the all-party meeting.