Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 2:
In what is his first communication with the media since he went incommunicado on Thursday, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh has lambasted the PCC leadership for the ham-handed manner in which it has been handling the selection of candidates for the coming elections and sidelining long time party workers and local leaders.
“Dedicated party workers and leaders are being repeatedly subjected to humiliation by the state party leadership,” lamented the senior Congress leader in an exclusive telephonic chat with ‘Sambad’ from an undisclosed destination on Saturday night.
Singh claimed he was undergoing treatment at a private hospital and had been advised by doctors to stay there for the next three days.
When asked about speculation that he is planning to resign from the Congress and join the BJD, Singh said he would make a formal announcement in this regard very soon.
Significantly, he did not reject such speculation outright.
Talking about reports of a possible split in the Congress legislature party this month with some members set to join the ruling BJD, Singh said “Let the party MLAs take a decision on their own keeping the interests of the people in mind.”
He said the party MLAs, who had shown their unity during Rajya Sabha elections, are now being overlooked by the state leadership.
“I have information that in the context of the present scenario in the state Congress, the people of Odisha, especially the people of Kalahandi district have welcomed my decision,” the MLA from Narla said.
Asked if he was doing what he was doing with an eye on the Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat, he said; “Whether I contest the Lok Sabha election or not is not the big issue. But the fact remains that the state party leadership is not going by the suggestions of AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi in the matter of selection of Lok Sabha candidates.”
Singh alleged that the PCC had violated the party guidelines in the matter of nomination of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.
“While the party leadership has been sending observers to elicit the opinion of party workers at the grassroots level for selection of candidates for the Assembly elections, the same procedure is not being followed for the Lok Sabha candidates,” Singh pointed out.The media would come to know about this if it conducts opinion survey in all the blocks of Kalahandi district, he added.
Clarifying that he had no information to attend the screening committee meeting held on February 27, Bhupinder said though he had informed the matter to the Central high command through AICC leader and Odisha in-charge BK Hariprasad, but there had been no response till date.
“The fate of the Congress is Odisha is now in the hands of a couple of senior leaders. Though I have informed the Odisha in-charge about all this time and again, there has been no improvement in the situation,” Singh said. He, however, declined to name these leaders.
To a question on how the people would accept his sudden change in stance, Singh said he has always given top priority to the larger interest of the state.
“If necessary, I would never hesitate to raise my voice against the Centre on issues relating to Polavaram, negligence of the Railways and development in the underdeveloped areas of the state”, Singh said, adding emphasis should be given on the welfare of the people than on a particular party.