The fear of an exodus of cadre from its Odisha unit has prompted the Congress to step up efforts to address dissent and strengthen its organisational structure ahead of the 2019 assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
In the past few weeks, Congress leaders, including general secretary in-charge of Odisha BK Hariprasad, have accused the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and BJP of “poaching” its rank and file. The infighting in the Odisha Congress has escalated in the recent past, especially after the party’s rout in the elections to the local bodies two months ago. The BJP pushed the Congress to the third spot and occupied the space of the principal opposition party.
Of the total 846 zilla parishad seats for which polls were held from February 13, BJD won 473 seats while the BJP bagged 297 and Congress managed just 60.
All 16 Congress legislators have revolted against state chief Prasad Harichandan.
To address their grievances, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday met a party delegation. The leaders urged the Congress V-P to remove Harichandan from his position as “he had failed to resurrect the party and re-energise” the cadre.
Revamping the party’s Odisha unit is Gandhi’s top priority, Congress sources said. The Congress has been out of power in the state since 2000. Its position as the main challenger to BJD is under threat.