Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/New Delhi, May 8:
While the chorus for state unit leadership change has been getting strident by the day, AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi today held a day-long meeting with state leaders at the national capital to put the house in order.
Dissension has been the order of the day ever since the grand old party was pushed to a remote third position in the recently concluded Panchayat polls in the state calling for a leadership change.
Former Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik was said to be among the frontrunners.
On the contrary, the participants claimed to have huddled to chalk-out the blueprint to revive its fortune in the state with the two principal parties – BJD and BJP – have already gone full throttle in the state setting tone for 2019 election.
“Rahul Gandhi will take a decision on how to strengthen the party after hearing out the leaders. As long as Congress workers do not work as a unit, it will be futile even if you change the leadership hundred times,” Niranjan Patnaik said.
The two-day meeting began today at the 12, Tughlak Road residence of the Gandhi scion at 10 am where the party vice president had a group meeting first followed by one-to-ones.
“The gist of the meeting is to strengthen the organization besides analyzing the strengths and the weaknesses; how to go further. I had resigned… I have taken the responsibility. Rest, I don’t want anybody to resign or take the responsibility,” PCC Odisha in-charge BK Hariprasad.
Rahul reportedly sought views from the leaders on leadership change and organizational restructuring.
“Meeting was held with the Odisha leaders. The meeting was definitely fruitful. I am personally satisfied with the outcome. I cannot divulge the details of the meeting. Wait for the right moment,” Leader of Opposition in the Odisha Assembly Narasingh Mishra said.
During the first round of meeting, former PCC chief Niranjan Patnaik, former Union minister Srikant Jena, former Lok Sabha MP Bhakta Charan Das, former PCC president Jayadev Jena, Kishore Patel, Sarat Patnaik, Naba Das, Rajya Sabha MP Ranjib Biswal, MLA Chiranjib Biswal among others met Rahul. The first round meeting concluded at around 11.30 am.
In the second round meeting which began at 12 noon, MLA Anshuman Mohanty, Prakash Behera, Bhujabala Majhi, Jogesh Singh, Debendra Sharma, Kailash Kolathia, Ramachandra Khuntia and Bijaylaxmi Sahu attended the scheduled meeting.
Later in the day, beleaguered PCC president Prasad Harichandan, Narasingh Mishra, Biswaranjan Mohanty, Sanjay Bhoi, Jacob Pradhan, Pradeep Majhi, Ganeswar Behera and Susila Tiria were in attendance in the third phase meeting.
Worth mentioning, the meeting with Congress Yuvraj assumes significance as the party had fared poorly in the rural polls where its major vote share was eaten away by the BJP catapulting to the second position.
Upbeat over the unprecedented success, the saffron party has shifted it focus on to Odisha and is optimistic to regain power in 2019.