Bhubaneswar, Aug 15:
Senior Congress leader Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, who has been served a show cause notice for anti-party activities by the disciplinary committee of the party, has stoutly defended his decision to launch the ‘Sankalp Abhijan’ saying it was aimed at strengthening the party organisation at the grassroots level and not raising the banner of revolt against the state leadership.
A day after his well-attended Sankalp rally in Bhadrak, Patnaik said he saw no reason why he had to take anybody’s permission for an event that is intended to energise the organisation. “Whose permission should I seek and why? I am just an ordinary member of the party and hold no post. In any case, most of these events are organised by the workers and not me,” Patnaik said.
Emphatically refuting the allegation that he had ever spoken against the Gandhi family, the Congress leader said; “On the contrary, I have highlighted the supreme sacrifice of the Gandhi family for the party and country at every meeting that I have addressed,” he said.
Making his displeasure at the disciplinary committee going public with the show cause notice even before he was told about it in no uncertain terms, the former MP from Bhubaneswar said; “Even assuming that I have worked against the interests of the party, why did they have to rush to the media instead of talking to me first. The party must not be run like the state secretariat.”
Patnaik found an unlikely ally for his argument in Union minister Srikant Jena, who said the matter should be discussed and resolved in the party and not in public.
Soumya invites Jena
Addressing an impressive gathering at the Prajapatai Kalyan Mandap in Bhadrak on Wednesday, Patnaik invited Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Jayadev Jena to attend the next Sankalp rally. He said Jena’s misgivings about his Sankalp rally would be removed if he attended one. ”He would realise that it is an initiative to ensure the return of the Congress to power in the next elections and not a banner of revolt against the party leadership,” Patnaik said to loud applause from the sizeable crowd who made it to the rally despite the show cause notice served on him.
“It was Rahul Gandhi who called for identifying ‘sipahis’ at the booth level and that is precisely what I am trying to do,” Patnaik said. These ‘sipahis’ would have to connect with the people at the grassroots level, he said.
“Congress workers must resolve to foil the ruling party design to get votes of dead and missing persons in their favour as they have done in past elections. This would be the key to winning in the next polls,” the former Lok Sabha member said.
Launching a tirade against the Naveen Patnaik government in the state, Patnaik said it was trying to hoodwink the people by selling schemes funded by the UPA government at the Centre as its own. “Its bluff must be called,” thundered the former MP from Bhubaneswar.
It is the supreme sacrifice of the Gandhi-Nehru family that has sustained the party through thick and thin and every party worker must emulate their example. “They must shun the temptation for office and work selflessly for the party,” he said.
Referring to the show cause notice served on him, Patnaik told his supporters that there was no need to panic over it. “I will reply to the notice when I get it. But the Sankalp Abhijan that I have started will continue,” he said.