In what seems like a severe jolt for the Congress in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, an OTV report suggests that the Odisha unit of the Congress is embroiled in infighting even as the Lok Sabha polls are less than a month away. As per the report, resentment is brewing among the party workers and supporters of several Congress leaders who have been denied an election ticket. This followed the announcement of 54 assembly candidates and 2 Lok Sabha candidates by the Congress on Friday. It is clear that the leadership has been unable to keep its leaders and workers satisfied as far as ticket distribution is concerned.
OTV also shared a video on its Twitter handle in which supporters of an aspiring candidate, Amir Mohammed, can be seen opposing the party’s decision to field Rashmi Mohapatra from Ekamra-Bhubaneswar Assembly seat and vandalising property in Congress Bhavan in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Amir Mohammed’s supporters seem rather disappointed by the party’s decision and the party leadership faces a tough task of somehow managing the ruckus that has been created over the decision to field Mohapatra from the said constituency.
Opposing the Congress decision to field Rashmi Mohapatra from Ekamra-Bhubaneswar Assembly seat, supporters of ticket aspirant Amir Mohammed ransack property at Congress Bhawan in #Bhubaneswar #Odisha pic.twitter.com/YUIoaGC7NS
— OTV (@otvnews) March 23, 2019
The party is facing internal opposition over the announcement of several other candidates as well. Ransacking of the property in Congress Bhavan over the announcement of Mohapatra as the party candidate from Ekamra-Bhubaneswar Assembly seat is only a case in point. Infighting was also reported between the supporters of Manoja Manjari Debi, who has been fielded from the Nilagiri constituency and the supporter group of ticket aspirant Chittaranjan Sarangi. Manoja attended a meeting where she faced active opposition from the disappointed supporter group which did not allow her to leave. As per sources, she was allowed to leave only after she raised slogans in favour of Sarangi. It seems that the infighting is only going to intensify as Manoja said that she will lodge a complaint with the party leadership over this issue.
In another instance of dissension within the state unit, some Congress activists from Jharsuguda locked the district party office. They were opposing the candidature of Mahendra Nayak, a former bureaucrat. As per sources, the party activists even threatened non-cooperation for neglecting local leaders and fielding an outsider as Jharsuguda candidate. Similar reports came from Rourkela as well where the party workers opposed the candidature of Muktikanta Biswal.
Such is the level of disillusionment within the Odisha unit of the Rahul Gandhi led party that the Opposition Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinpati went on to express disappointment over the candidature of Saptagiri Ulaka from Koraput Lok Sabha constituency. This shows that even the state leadership is not happy with the ticket distribution. Bahinpati said, “The people of the district were expecting that Prafulla Bhatra would get a ticket. He is young and educated tribal leader and had been elected councillor thrice.”
It is clear that the Congress is battling widespread resentment and infighting within its Odisha unit even as the Lok Sabha polls are around the corner. The grand old party has clearly lost the plot and has failed to keep its house in order. It remains to be seen whether Congress is able to stage a dramatic turnaround and somehow manage the delicate situation.