BHUBANESWAR: The three member observers team from the All India Congress Committee (AICC) which started its exercise today to assess the party's condition in Odisha and recommend organisational changes will meet legislators and senior leaders tomorrow before arriving at a conclusion.
Sources, however, maintained that the team reportedly found the party divided into three factions on the issue of a change of president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC). While the majority faction supported former OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik to become the next party chief in Odisha immediately, there were some who also wanted that the present incumbent Prasad Harichandan should continue. Former union minister Bhakta Charan Das also found support from some leaders.
The team, constituted by All India Congress Committee (AICC) chief Sonia Gandhi, to assess the political situation in Odisha met district presidents in the pre-lunch session. State office-bearers and leaders of frontal organisation of the party met the obsevers in the post-lunch session.
According to sources, leaders of the Youth Congress and Chhatra Congress were in favour of appointment of Niranjan Patnaik as the next OPCC president while Mahila Congress wanted Harichandan to continue. However, the state office-bearers were divided in their opinion about the next OPCC president.
While the district presidents and some of the state office-bearers had an one-on-one meeting with the observers, others met them in groups. However, MLA Krushna Chandra Sagaria, chairman of the Scheduled Caste Cell of the party met the observers separately though it was decided that all the legislators will meet the observers in a group. The legislators are scheduled to meet the team on Sunday.
Besides eliciting their opinion on the change of guard in the state unit of the party, the observers also asked questions about the state of Congress in Odisha and on other issues also.
The team comprises Congress MPs Gaurav Gogoi and Tamrdhwaj Sahu and former Union Minister Jitendra Singh. They were joined by AICC General Secretary and Odisha in-charge BK Hariprasad. The team has been asked to submit a joint report to the AICC chief after returning from the State.