Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 28:
Speculation over a rift within the Congress in Odisha, which started ever since 12 party MLAs visited New Delhi and met AICC president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, does not look dying down in a hurry.
A day after four of the 12 MLAs met Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra in what they called a ‘courtesy call’, Congress chief whip in the state Assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati today offered to resign from the chief whip post on his own if the party MLAs so desire at the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting to be held on Thursday in which PCC president Prasad Harichandan will be in attendance.
“I am a person who holds self-esteem very close to heart. I never tolerate insults. I don’t have any wish or aspiration. I have won elections thrice as an MLA. I have never aspired for posts. Why should I fight for a post? If all MLAs feel that it’s not appropriate that I continue in the post. I will welcome it and quit on my own,” said Bahinipati, speaking to reporters today here.
Four of the 12 Congress MLAs, who had gone to New Delhi recently to meet party high command Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Monday met the Leader of the Opposition in the Odisha Assembly Narasingh Mishra at his official residence here and had maintained that it was a ‘courtesy call’.
Narasingh Mishra too had maintained that the MLAs were on courtesy visit and no specific issue was discussed.
Twelve of the sixteen Congress MLAs from Odisha had paid a visit to Delhi on July 20 without the knowledge of PCC President Prasad Harichandan, LoP Narasingha Mishra or Chief Whip in Assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati.
While the delegation of MLAs that went to Delhi insisted that it was a ‘courtesy call’, senior leader of the party Lalatendu Bidyadhar (Lulu) Mohapatra had spilled the beans about the visit on July 21 leading to chaos and confusion in the rank and file of the party.
The former Brahmagiri MLA had revealed that the delegation was in Delhi to complain about the functioning of Opposition Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati and to seek his replacement leading to speculation of a rift in the trouble-torn party.