Odisha Sun Times Politcal Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 29:
For the faction ridden Odisha Congress, it was a day of some candid confession. Normally at each other’s throats, leaders of the party outdid each other in self-flagellation blaming themselves for the sorry state the party finds itself in. The occasion was the Congress Foundation Day celebrations, which also marked the corontaion of newly appointed PCC chief Prasad Harichandan, on Sunday.
After Harichandan set the tone with his newly coined slogan “We, not I”, leader after leader admitted that it’s not the Congress worker at grassroots level who was to be blamed for the party’s debacle in the elections, but factionalism of the senior leaders.
“Those sitting below (the dais) are all raring to go. Once we the leaders sink our differences and work unitedly, there is no power on earth that can stop the Congress from coming back to power,” said outgoing PCC presdient Jayadev Jena.
“Any move to dislodge Prasad Babu from the steering wheel will be opposed tooth and nail. We are all united and no dissidence will be tolerated,” thundered the voluble Jeypore MLA and party chief whip in the state Assembly Taraprasad Bahinipati.
“Prasad Babu has a four inch heart unlike the BJP which claims to have a 56 inch chest and the BJD which has a 60 inch tummy. It is the heart which understands the problems of the common man, working class and the poor people”, said the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Ranjib Biswal.
“All MLAs will extend their support and cooperation to Harichandan and the legislative party will function under his leadership,” said senior Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly Narasingh Mishra.
“Fill the party with youths by more than half and they will give the direction to the party in the future. We have become what we wanted to, have got whatever we could and have taken whatever could. It’s now the time for the youth to take over,” said former PCC president Niranjan Patnaik.
Messages sent by the Congress patriarch J B Patnaik and former legislator Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra, who could not attend the celebrations, were read out at the meeting. However, conspicuous by his absence was former minister Srikant Jena and former Rajya Sabha MP Ramachandra Khuntia.
Addressing the gathering, Harichandan expressed confidence that the Congress would rejuvenate itself and hit the streets with vigour to rescue Odisha and its people from the clutches of corruption.