The Janaki Ballav Patnaik era in Orissa has come to an end, with the 82-year-old leader of the opposition finally stepping down on Saturday. Patnaik served three terms as Orissa Chief Minister in 1980-1985, 1985-1989 and 1996-1999.
Ulaka Rama Chandra, a 75-year-old seven-term tribal MLA who served as minister since 1974, will succeed Patnaik. Besides, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Jayadev Jena also tendered his resignation on Saturday.
Earlier, an All India Congress Committee team, comprising party in-charge for Orissa Ajay Maken, senior leader Janardan Dwivedi and union minister V Narayanaswamy, met all the legislators before announcing Patnaik’s resignation. Dwivedi said, “Ulaka Rama Chandra has been appointed as the new leader of opposition. On the new PCC president, we will communicate the views of the legislators to the high command.”
Reacting to the developments, Patnaik said, “The chair sometimes becomes troublesome. Without any post, I can still work for the party. As a disciplined worker, I will discharge my duties as per the direction of the High Command.”
After 1999, Patnaik assumed the reins of the Congress again when he was made the PCC president just two months before the 2004 Lok Sabha and assembly polls. The Congress lost for the second time, and Patnaik was made leader of the opposition.
However, a senior Patnaik associate, who did not wish to be named, told Hindustan Times, “In 1999, when J.B. (Patnaik) was removed as CM after the Graham Staines killing and Anjana Mishra gangrape case, everyone thought his era was over. But he still played a key role from 2004 to 2009.”
Meanwhile, Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik has refused to comment on the development, saying, “It’s an internal matter of the Congress.”