Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi/ Bhubaneswar, Jun 4:
In a curious development, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s Office has invited former Odisha Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang and his son Sisir for a personal meeting at the AICC head office on June 9 and 10.
Giridhar had resigned from Congress on May 30 after a 43 year-long association with the party and his son Sisir was considered a major influence behind this decision.
Even though Giridhar had made it clear on the resignation day that he won’t be going back to Congress, his words are not taken very seriously as his son is considered a huge influence on him. Giridhar had been consistently denying leaving Congress even as Sisir consistently tipped off the media about his decision to leave the party in the run up to the actual resignation.
Curiously, Sisir today confirmed that they would visit Delhi on June 9 and 10, but on personal affairs. “We have been getting calls from Delhi ever since he resigned, but like my father said earlier, he is not going back. We would go to Delhi on June 9 and 10, but that’s private business,” said Sisir.
Giridhar had faxed his resignation to the AICC President Sonia Gandhi last Saturday and had hinted at the infamous 1999 vote of confidence against Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government and subsequent humiliation as factors behind his resignation.
“I announce my resignation from the primary membership of the Congress with immediate effect. I have taken the decision as I have been repeatedly humiliated and insulted by the party leadership. I want to be free. There is no question of returning to the Congress again once I have taken the decision,” Gamang had said on the day of his resignation.
While the motive behind the AICC president calling the Gamang father-son duo is not yet clear, a reconciliation and rehabilitation offer for them makes sense given the current shape of Congress in the state. Junior Gamang clearly wants to miss no opportunity as he makes up his mind for June 9 and 10.
Back home in the state, while Giridhar’s wife is already a BJD leader and the regional behemoth keeps an open door for him, Gamang and possibly Sisir too don’t see much of a future for themselves in BJD.
“We haven’t zeroed in on any party as of now. But the party for sure won’t be a regional one,” Sisir had commented on the day of resignation hinting at the BJP as the obvious alternative.
It is actually BJP that Sisir is gunning for while Gamang senior can never conceive how the party he once voted out of power can accept him.
Contrary to what plays out in local media and much to the bewilderment of Giridhar, a large section of BJP remains opposed to his entrance to the party.
“All his life, he was confined to a particular constituency and was never a mass leader. His ministerial berths were blessings from the top. Now he has even lost his constituency. What good do you think he can be to us? Instead, getting him in the party will hurt many loyalists, who haven’t forgiven him for what he did in 1999,” said a senior leader without wanting to be named.
The senior BJP leadership doesn’t come out openly in his support either, even though some are empathetic and some want him in the party to increase their influence in the southern tribal bels. As per sources, Giridhar also had a meeting with Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram before the May 30 resignation that yielded no concrete results.
Officially, the party remains indecisive, trades a more cautious path and issues diplomatic statements.
“Giridhar Gamang has not yet approached us. His resignation has not yet been approved by the Congress either. Let this get over and we will see. This is a decision that has to be taken by collectively by the national and state leadership,” said Oram while speaking to reporters today which can neither be translated as a ‘welcome’ nor be considered as ‘go away’.
BJP State spokesperson Suresh Pujari also echoed Oram’s line while adding he feels for the “hurt” and “humiliation” that Gamang went through in Congress which can at best be translated at a dig towards the Grand Old party.
Pujari, however, conveniently forgot that it was Congress that made him a nine-term MP, three-term Union Minister and a Chief Minister while it took Gamang a whopping 16 years to realise he was being “humiliated” and had lost his “self-respect.”