The Congress unit in Odisha, known for its factionalism, saw another change of guard with Prasad Harichandan taking over as the Pradesh Congress Committee president.
A release from the Congress said that Harichandan will take charge from immediate effect.
Harichandan replaced Jaydev Jena, who managed to retain the chair for just seven months. Caught between Naveen Patnaik-led BJD and BJP, the Congress is grappling to regain its space in the coastal state.
“He is considered very close to party vice president Rahul Gandhi. He rose through the NSUI, the students’ wing of the party. He was a minister of state in Giridhar Gamang government and the chief whip of the party in the last assembly,” said an Odisha leader.
Sources added that the appointment of Harichandan, a Khandayet (OBC) by caste is a signal that Gandhi wants to get rid of factionalism in Odisha Congress. The JNU-educated Harichandan, hailed as a good speaker, is not known as a part of any major faction in state Congress politics.
His appointment also coincides with the return of old Congress warhorse JB Pattnaik in the state after completing his tenure as Assam governor. “It is a message to Pattnaik too, that he will not have much say in state Congress now. He was never consulted for appointing Harichandan,” said a Congress insider.