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Rift in Odisha Congress: Chief whip gives the game away


Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 31:

Barely 24 hours after Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Prasad Harichandan claimed that the visit of 12 party MLAs to New Delhi was a ‘courtesy visit’ to meet the Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, the party’s chief whip in the Assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati repudiated him today confirming that the statement of his colleague Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra that they had requested the party supremo to remove him from his post, was true.

Chief Whip Taraprasad Bahinipati: Under Fire
Chief Whip Taraprasad Bahinipati: Under Fire

“What Lulu (Lalatendu) had told you about motive of the 12 party MLAs’ visit to New Delhi was true. It was a bad news for the Odisha Congress. The issue has been solved during a meeting of these MLAs with the PCC chief and the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) Narasingh Mishra yesterday. I have requested both the leaders to put an end to the issue,” Bahinipati told the media persons here.

“The party supremo had appointed me as the chief whip. If they ask me to step down, I will relinquish the post without hesitation. I never want that my party should suffer for me,” he added.

Referring to the meeting of the 12 party MLAs  with the PCC chief and the LoP, Lulu Mohapatra said the party leadership should act on the wishes of these MLAs.

“Let the party leadership give precedence to the opinion of the majority of the members. It is none of our business to poke our nose into the affairs of these MLAs. The Congress Legislature Party and the party organisation are two different things. The party MLAs can solve any issue or problem through mutual understanding,” Mohapatra pointed out.

When asked whether his earlier statement on Bahinipati was not true, if he feels that the opinion of the party MLAs should be considered, he said what he had said was absolutely right.

“I still stick to my statement on Bahinipati I had given earlier,” he asserted.

To a question on whether the PCC chief is trying for a patch up on the issue of Bahinipati, Mohapatra said the work of the PCC chief is to solve any problem in the party. The PCC chief is not trying for a patch-up, he added.

He also made it clear that the PCC chief has not discussed with him on this issue.