Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Dec 27:
In face of a clamour within the party for action against Union minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Srikant Jena for his intemperate outburst against veteran Congress leader and Assam Governor JB Patnaik, the PCC leadership on Friday played safe lobbing the ball to the AICC’s court.
“The statement of Srikant Jena is entirely his personal opinion….it is not the opinion of the Congress party. Well, whether the statement amounts indiscipline or not, the AICC will decide on it,” said Congress media cell chairman Narasingh Mishra at a press conference here today.
Given the widely held view within the party that Jayadaev Jena owed his ascension as PCC chief in place of Niranjan Patnaik in no small measure to Srikant Jena, Mishra’s non-committal answer did not exactly come as a surprise as not many expected the PCC chief to act against his alleged mentor.
A powerful section in the state Congress, however, is of the view that the PCC leadership should treat Jena’s statement with the same seriousness that it did erstwhile senior leader Soumya Ranjan Patnaik’s alleged anti-party activities. It feels the issue should be discussed in the PCC disciplinary committee chaired by senior Congress leader Harihar Karan, which had earlier recommended for expulsion of Patnaik from the party for six years.
While most votaries of this school of thought in the party would rather not be named, PCC spokesperson Arya Kumar Jnanedra has already gone public with his demand for ‘stringent’ action against the Union minister for his statement in which he had said JB had done nothing for the state.
Following Jnanedra’s demand made at a press conference at Congress Bhavan, Jena made a belated – and pathetic – attempt to make amends by doing a complete volte face and saying JB was a ‘respected’ leader and had indeed contributed a lot to the development of the state. In the same breath, he also credited chief minister Naveen Patnaik with having done a lot for the state, making observers wonder who he was batting for.