Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, May 20:
Under attack for his lacklustre leadership, which led the party to one of its worst ever performances in the recent elections, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Jayadev Jena has dashed off a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi, stopping just short of tendering his resignation.
Without mentioning the word ‘resignation’ anywhere in the two-page letter, Jena has accepted the responsibility for the party’s disastrous performance in the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in Odisha and has left a decision on his fate in her hands, party sources said.
Confirming writing the letter to Sonia, Jayadev Jena said; “I have left it to her to decide on the future steps that need to be taken in the state party set up.”
Even while accepting responsibility, however, the PCC chief has cited a host of ‘difficulties which, according to him, led to the dismal performance. Interestingly, he has castigated campaign committee chief Srikant Jena for not budging from his constituency and listed this as one of the ‘difficulties’, the sources said.
Jena’s fulmination against the former Union minister has amused Congress circles here because the two were widely believed to have called all the shots in the run up to the elections, including ticket distribution.
Curiously, one of the ‘difficulties’ cited by the PCC chief is the expulsion of senior leader Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, which led to the birth of the Aama Odisha Party (AOP) and weaning away a sizable chunk of essentially Congress votes.
Among the other ‘difficulties’ cited by Jena are ‘infighting’ within the party and exodus of many senior leaders just before the polls.
It may be noted that many senior Congress leaders like Bhupinder Singh, Ramakrushna Patnaik, Arya Kumar Gyanendra, Umesh Swain, Hemendra Singh, Anup Sai, Ms Kamala Das , Sarat Kar and several others quit the party just before elections.
Making light of Jena’s reported offer to resign, senior Congress leader Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra said; “Whether Jayadev resigns or not is not important. What is important is a thorough, candid discussion and introspection which we did not do when we lost the panchayat and the urban local body elections prior to the general elections. The party should first convene a meeting of all the 147 assembly and 21 MP candidates to discuss and analyze the defeat.”
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi may have weathered the storm, at least for now, over the disastrous performance of the party in the just concluded parliamentary elections at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting in New Delhi yesterday, but the state unit president Jayadev Jena is only beginning to feel the heat over his lacklustre leadership during the elections.
With the Congress registering one of the worst performances in this election, calls for Jayadev’s head from within the party are getting louder by the hour. For the first time ever, the party failed to open its account in the Lok Sabha elections while its performance in the Assembly election was among its worst in recent memory, next only to the total wipe out in 1990.
Many senior leaders and several newly elected party MLAs are mighty peeved with the PCC president and making no bones about their opposition to his continuation.