Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/New Delhi, Jul 20:
Twelve of the sixteen congress MLAs in the Odisha Assembly today paid a visit to Delhi without PCC President Prasad Harichandan, LoP Narasingha Mishra or Chief Whip in Assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati, leading to speculation of a rift in the trouble-torn party again.
Curiously, while PCC President Prasad Harichandan and LoP Narasingha Mishra; who met Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi exactly a week back on July 13, were left out of the delegation, the 12-member delegation is being led by Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Assembly and Jagatsinghpur MLA Chiranjib Biswal.
Other members of the delegation are Talsara MLA Prafulla Majhi, Rajnagar MLA Anshuman Mohanty, Jharsuguda MLA Naba Kishore Das, Sundargarh MLA Jogesh Kumar Singh, Salipur MLA Prakash Chandra Behera, Koraput MLA Krushna Chandra Sagaria, Laxmipur MLA Kailash Chandra Kulesika, G. Udaygiri MLA Jacob Pradhan, Aul MLA Devendra Sharma, Paralakhemundi MLA Kengam Surya Rao and Bijepur MLA Subal Sahu.
Like PCC Chief Prasad Harichandan did last week after meeting Rahul, some of the members of the delegation issued bland statements saying they are in Delhi to meet Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi, so that the right issues pertaining to the interest of the state can be raised in the monsoon session of the parliament.
What complicated the matter further, however, is the reaction of Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra.
“I don’t know of the delegation or their agenda. I was not consulted about the tour,” said Mishra clearly indicating that the stated objective by the touring delegation is an attempt to cover up something more sinister.
The rift theory also makes sense because had it been a courtesy call or a routine visit to brief the high-command on the political situation in the state, either the PCC Chief or the LoP should have led it. Aat the very least, they would have been consulted about the visit.
Instead, it is being led by someone whose rank is right below LoP Mishra.
According to Congress insiders, there is disquiet in the party over the fact that seven months after taking over as PCC Chief on December 28, Prasad Harichandan has not yet been able to announce his team. Everytime the question has been asked by the media, Harichandan’s standard retort has been “Very soon.”
“Worried that the Prasad-Narasingha duo might harm their prospects in the party when the new team is announced and unhappy over the functioning of Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati, they are there to meet Sonia and complain against them. They believe, with 12 out of the 16 MLAs in attendance, their lobby will present a strong case and undo the damage done by the Prasad-Mishra duo during their meeting wwith Rahul,” said a party insider requesting anonymity.
The faction ridden Odisha Congress did put up a united front on June 26 while observing a 12 hour Bandh against the ‘Brahma Paribartan’ fiasco and failure of the state government in the management of Shri Jagannath Temple Administration. But as subsequent events have proved, the show of solidarity was not unconditional.
PCC Chief Prasad Harichandan lwas not available for a comment.