Into the Abyss, Congress Makes it Easy for BJD
By Srimoy Kar
Published: 23rd Mar 2014 09:32:47 AM
The Congress in Odisha seems to have surrendered the battle even before the war has begun. Beset with large-scale exodus of senior leaders coupled with a sulking lot and an utterly demoralised outfit, it seems to be diving into the abyss, incapable of throwing a challenge to the Biju Janata Dal in both the Parliamentary and Assembly elections.
For the party, which could have realistically looked forward to putting up a good show this time even as poll surveys projected a record fourth term for the BJD, it presents a dismal picture with almost half of its top brass in dissent mode. Given the present affairs in the state unit, the Congress might even struggle to retain its 2009 tally of 27 Assembly and six Parliamentary seats.
With political pundits making gloomy predictions, the responsibility to steer the party in the forthcoming polls lies with Union minister Srikant Jena and his protege OPCC president Jaydev Jena at the helm. Ironically, Srikant Jena, who started his political career as an acolyte of Biju Patnaik and built his career as a Congress baiter, is now in charge of the party which is beginning to witness disastrous effect. The functioning of the Jena duo has been annoying with leaders of more than three to four decades standing quitting allegedly due to lack of internal democracy. The desertions which started as a trickle with the resignation of Nayagarh district Congress president Hemendra Singh and Sibsankar Ulaka, son of veteran leader and former minister Ramchandra Ulaka, have taken the shape of a tsunami.
The huge jolt to the party came in the shape of Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Bhupinder Singh and secretary Anup Sai, who left with protestations of being sidelined by the Jena coterie. This, in fact, has emerged the common accusation against the present dispensation right from senior leaders to the grassroots.
The process of selection of candidates has also been arbitrary with local organisations not being consulted let alone the leaders, causing widespread resentment in the rank and file. As desertions continue unabated, several senior leaders like former Chief Minister and MP
Hemananda Biswal have gone into a sulk. Heaping embarrassment on the party, he has refrained from filing nomination from his Sundargarh Parliamentary seat.
The grand old party, which had begun to project a united front under Niranjan Patnaik and rattled Naveen Patnaik with systematic attacks only a year back, has again been reduced to a grossly fractured house, squandering the opportunity of improving its performance by raking up corruption, the multitude of scams like mining, chit fund, etc., and other failures of the state government. The present predicament also exposes the failure of Rahul Gandhi who in a bid to infuse freshness into the organisation has completely divided it. Encouraged by the success of appointing a Dalit at the helm in Karnataka, Rahul installed Jaydev Jena as OPCC chief for the second time months before the polls, little knowing that caste factors matter nothing in Odisha politics. As the theatre in Congress plays out, rival BJD is making merry with Naveen Patnaik lapping up the defectors lock, stock and barrel.
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