Bhubaneswar, Feb 10:
Congress vice-president and head of the party’s campaign committee Rahul Gandhi who talked tough on the great need for discipline in the party, was stumped when he found out about the presence of a number of ‘infiltrators’ who had no locus standi to be part of his interactions with the students as well as block and district congress committee presidents on Monday.
There were several ‘infiltrators’ in his ‘closed door’ meetings with students, youths and later with the block and district level office bearers, reliable party sources admitted.
People who did not belong to any of these categories were issued passes to enter the venue, apparently to present a ‘rosy picture’ to Rahul Gandhi while ensuring an impressive turnout, the sources said.
The sources said Rahul Gandhi did get an inkling of the ‘trespass’ when he confronted one such person during his interaction with block and district presidents of the party.
“How did you come here , who allowed you ?” asked Rahul Gandhi when he found out that a person he was talking to was not an office-bearer. The young man in question admitted that he was an ordinary Congress worker who just wanted to ‘see’ him in person and was allowed in by the party leaders.
Evidently, the incident caused great embarrassment to the OPCC president Jayadev Jena.
The president of one of the districts told Rahul that the party in Odisha was in a hopeless situation and all that is being claimed by top leaders rings hollow. Some district and block level leaders complained they are ignored by the OPCC leadership and that they have no say or voice in the party.
One of them is reported to have said that the Union Minister Srikant Jena “cares two hoots” about the views of grass roots level leaders and that he simply ignores them.
Interestingly, Rahul made an unsolicited remark when he said there will be no change in OPCC leadership before the elections.
“The remark had no relevance at all. More than anybody, Rahul and his think tank know it pretty well that nobody of any worth in the state Congress is interested in shouldering the responsibility of leading the party in a situation where it was staring at yet another humiliating drubbing in the general elections,” said a senior leader of the party.