BHUBANESWAR: A change of guard in the State Congress, which has now become a certainty, is likely to be delayed by over a month after the constitution of a three-member committee by All India Congress Committee (AICC) to assess the situation.
The committee, which is likely to visit the State after the Parliament session is over on August 11 as two of the members are MPs, will interact with the MLAs as well as other office-bearers of the party.
The high command has made it clear that the committee will also take into confidence AICC general secretary BK Hariprasad and secretary Subhonkar Sarkar, who are in charge of Odisha during their visit to the State.
The team will recommend steps to be taken for revival of Congress which had slipped to the third place in the panchayat polls, including changes in the organisation. While the demand for ouster of president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Prasad Harichandan has intensified, several office-bearers have also taken exception to the activities of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) which is functioning in a parallel manner without any link to the party organisation.
Sources said, the team will recommend steps to be taken to tackle the situation arising out of squabblings in the party, particularly between the MLAs and state office-bearers, including OPCC president. Though Harichandan has refrained from making any public statements against the legislators, his defence by former minister Suresh Kumar Routray, who happens to be his father-in-law, has made the situation all the more murky.
Meanwhile, former minister Niranjan Patnaik and former Union minister Bhakta Charan Das have emerged as frontrunners for the post. While Patnaik has the support of CLP along with many senior leaders of the party, Das is said to be backed by Harichandan camp.The committee is going to assess which of the two leaders has more support among Congress leaders as well as workers before making a recommendation. The team members are Tamrdhwaj Sahu, Sushmita Dev (both MPs) and former minister Jitendra Singh.