BHUBANESWAR: Nearly eight months after he was appointed as Odisha unit’s manifesto committee chairman, the Congress High Command on Thursday removed former Union minister Srikant Jena from the post in a bid to give a free hand to president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Niranjan Patnaik in the 2019 Assembly elections.
Jena has been replaced by former minister Ganeswar Behera. Behera, who is from the Scheduled Caste community, is also the vice-president of the OPCC. Behera will head the 10-member manifesto committee. Apart from Behera, other members of the committee are Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra, former OPCC president Prasad Harichandan, Sudarsan Das, Shyam Sundar Hansda, Meri Surin, Natabara Khuntia, Liaqat Ali and Satya Prakash Nayak. Besides, Bismay Mahapatra has been appointed as the convener of the committee.
Sources in the party maintained that Jena’s continued support to dissident party leaders including former Koraput legislator Krushna Chandra Sagaria, which put the party leadership in an embarrassing situation, may have led to his removal from the post. Besides, his open letters to the OPCC president raising several contentious issues including projection of a dalit as the next Chief Minister put the State leadership of the party in difficult situation many times.
Welcoming the members of the committee, OPCC president asked them to work unitedly and prepare the best manifesto for the party for the forthcoming Assembly election scheduled for next year. Behera told the media that the party manifesto will be prepared after consulting all party leaders and taking suggestions directly from the people of Odisha. “Congratulations to all the newly appointed members of the manifesto committee for Odisha Vidhan Sabha Elections, 2019. Let’s work together to give the people the best manifesto which will capture the vision of the Congress party for a new glorious Odisha,” Patnaik tweeted.
Behera told mediapersons that all senior leaders of the party will be consulted for preparing the manifesto for the 2019 Assembly elections.