BHUBANESWAR: Congress MLAs’ visit to Delhi has again brought to the fore the differences between the organisational and legislative wings of the state unit in Odisha, a discord that is likely to have an adverse impact on the party’s prospects in the panchayat polls scheduled for February next year.
Sources said several MLAs reportedly raised the necessity for organisational changes in the state Congress during their meeting with AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday. They indicated that Prasad Harichandan, president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee be removed.
But Rahul would have none of it.
After the meeting with Rahul did not turn out as expected, the MLAs had two closed-door meetings to decide on their next course of action. Though the legislators were scheduled to return to Bhubaneswar on Sunday, the departure has been postponed for a couple of days in the hope that they would get an appointment with party president Sonia Gandhi, who they hope would acquiesce to their demand for oganisational changes in the party.
Though the MLAs have sought an appointment with Sonia, they have not received a response so far.
The differences between the organisational and legislative wing of Odisha’s Congress are not new. Several times in the past, both the wings have functioned parallel to each other, creating confusion within the party rank and file.
All 16 MLAs of the party, including the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Narasingh Mishra, left for New Delhi on October 13 and met President Pranab Mukherjee on the same day over the Mahanadi river water dispute with Chhattisgarh.
They then met Rahul on Saturday.
Speaking of their meeting with Rahul, former MP Pradip Majhi said the MLAs had the democratic right to raise any issue with the party vice-president.
AICC general secretary in-charge Odisha B K Hariprasad who was present at the meeting, however, said there was no discussion on the ensuing panchayat polls. All that happened at the meeting was that the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader briefed Rahul about the Mahanadi issue and action taken by the Odisha Government sofar.
The OPCC president was not present at the meeting as he was on tour of Malkangiri to visit the villages affected by the scourge of Japanese Encephalitis, he added.