Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday appointed senior party leader Jayadeb Jena as the new chief of Odisha Congress ending months of speculation about change of guard in the state leadership.
"The Congress president Sonia Gandhi has approved the proposal for appointing Jayadeb Jena as president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee in place of Niranjan Patnaik with immediate effect," a press release from All India Congress Committee said.
Jena (62), a former Odisha minister who was an AICC general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh and Assam prior to the new assignment.
A scheduled caste leader, Jena had earlier served as Odisha Congress chief for four years and eight months prior to the 2009 elections.
Change in Odisha Congress was imminent following AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi's visit to the state in February. After interacting with common party workers and listening to their grievances, Gandhi had hinted of organisational change.
On April 24, Gandhi held a meeting in New Delhi with Jena, union minister Srikant Jena, party MP Bhakta Charan Das and senior leader Lalatendu Mohapatra to discuss about the organisation in the state.
Congress has not been able to come back to power in Odisha since it lost in 2000 to the Biju Janata Dal headed by Naveen Patnaik. The next elections will be held in 2014.