BHUBANESWAR: Infighting in state Congress spilled into the open during a function to celebrate 10th year of implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as senior leaders indulged in a war of words when a former block chairman of Kalahandi district was invited to address the meeting.
The drama took place on the dais when former union minister Bhakta Charan Das strongly objected after 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 leaving the dais. Das, seen arguing with Harichandan on the dais, was persuaded by other senior leaders including AICC secretary Subhonkar Sarkar not to leave the meeting. However, Gond had to stop his speech only after two minutes due to strong protest by Das. Gond was suspended after 2009 polls for anti-party activities. Harichandan and Das had also fought over appointment of former MLA Gobardhan Das as the 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 workers to intensify their protest over the issue at the block level. Describing the NDA government at the Centre and the state government as anti-farmer, the OPCC president said padayatra 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 with unity 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 in Odisha people are not getting jobs under the scheme.
Alleging large scale irregularities in the implementation of MGNREGS in the state, former OPCC presidents Kanhu Charan Lenka, Hemananda Biswal and Niranjan Patnaik called upon the party workers to oppose this. 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 MP Ramchandra Khuntia was released at the function.