BHUBANESWAR: Infighting in State Congress spilled into the open at a function organised to celebrate 10th year of implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as senior leaders indulged in a war of words over address of a former block chairman of Kalahandi district.
The drama took place on the dais with former Union minister Bhakta Charan Das strongly raising his objection when president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Prasad Harichandan called Ashok Gond, former block chairman of Narla, to address the function.
An angry Das asked Harichandan on what basis Gond has been invited to address the meeting when his suspension is yet to be lifted by the party and started to leave the dais. However, Das was persuaded by senior leaders including AICC secretary Subhonkar Sarkar not to leave the meeting and Gond had to stop his speech after two minutes. Gond was suspended after 2009 polls for anti-party activities.
Harichandan and Das had also fought over appointment of former MLA Gobardhan Das as president of the Kalahandi District Congress Committee (KDCC) last month.
The OPCC president, however, refrained from mentioning the incident during his speech at the function.
Harichandan announced that committees will be set up by the party at the block level to monitor the implementation of MGNREGS.
Referring to large scale irregularities in the implementation NFSA in Odisha, Harichandan called upon the party workers to intensify their protest over the issue at block level.
Describing both the NDA Government at the Centre and the state Government as anti-farmer, the OPCC president said the padyatra started by the party will continue to protest such policies.
Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra called upon the party leaders and workers to work unitedly to defeat BJD Government and said intra-party fighting is the cause of Congress failure in Odisha.
Alleging that MGNREGS is not being implemented by the Centre properly, Mishra said people are not getting jobs under the scheme in Odisha.
Former OPCC presidents Kanhu Charan Lenka, Hemananda Biswal and Niranjan Patnaik called upon the party workers to raise their voice against irregularities in MGNREGS.
Former Union ministers Srikant Jena and Chandrasekhar Sahu, former ministers Matlub Ali, Rajya Sabha MP Ranjib Biswal, deputy leader of CLP Chiranjib Biswal, Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati and senior leader LB Mohapatra were present.
A book on MGNREGS written by former Rajya Sabha member Ramchandra Khuntia was released at the function.