Bhubaneswar: The three-member team of observers appointed by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) chief Sonia Gandhi that was on a three-day visit here completed its stock taking of the political situation and collection of feedback from different stakeholders on factors ailing the grand old party.
On the third and concluding day of its visit, the team of observers had interaction sessions with grassroots level functionaries from various districts including leaders of the Mahila Congress and its state unit president.
The team comprising of Congress MPs Gaurav Gogoi and Tamrdhwaj Sahu and former Union Minister Jitendra Singh will be submitting its report to Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.
“Though we haven’t kept a count, the team of observers has met all functionaries and leaders of the party in the state. Observers held discussions with MPs, ex-MPs, MLAs, Youth Congress, Mahila Congress, Seva Dal, INTUC, Labour Cell and Doctors’ Cell functionaries in these three days. Basing on the feedback they have collected they will submit a report to Rahulji. After that we will decide on the future road map,” informed AICC Odisha In-Charge B K Hariprasad briefing reporters here today.
According to sources privy to the discussions, most of the MLAs have demanded a change of guard in the state unit to revive the moribund party, which has been out of power for the last 18 years in the state.
The MLAs led by Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra are rallying behind former PCC president Niranjan Patnaik to take over the post, the sources added.
On the other hand, senior Congress leader and former minister Suresh Routray, who is also the father-in law of the incumbent Pradesh Congress Committee chief Prasad Harichandan has commented that if the party high command is going for a change of guard it should go for a change from top to bottom.
“If they are going for a change, it’s going to be a change from top to bottom. Who is Narasingh Mishra, Prasad Harichandan, Bhakta Das and for that matter Niranjan Patnaik? It is Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi who will decide. Black money is not going to work here. If they are going to replace Prasad Harichandan, whoever is going to replace him is welcome. I will be little sad since he is my son-in-law. But I am always ready for the battle. The party needs a complete overhaul which includes all,” commented Routray.
“How can the Leader of Opposition be excluded? He is also a part it,” he added.
However, Congress Chief Whip in the Odisha Assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati has called Routray’s statement with regard to the Leader of Opposition as most unfortunate.
“Only MLAs have the right to choose the Leader of Opposition. Non MLAs have no rights in this matter. If they are making such statements then it’s most unfortunate,” Bahinipati said in his response to Routray’s comments.