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Odisha Congress may get new chief as Rahul Gandhi promises to set party in order

Senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik has emerged as the front-runner for the state president post as 35 leader met Rahul Gandhi in Delhi in a bid resurrect the organisation ahead of 2019 elections.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2017 00:08 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Odisha Congress,Rahul Gandhi,2019 elections
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi (Arvind Yadav/HT Phhoto)

The Congress leadership is trying to work out a compromise formula to set its house in order in Odisha where the BJP is threatening to occupy its political space ahead of the Lok Sabha and assembly elections in 2019.

Sources said the leadership has almost decided to change state chief Prasad Harichandan over his “failure” to stem the growing dissidence in the party.

Apart from naming a new chief, the Congress leadership will also appoint a few working presidents to strike a balance between different factions.

Rahul has also summoned party legislators from Bihar for a discussion following reports that some of them might join the ruling Janata Dal (United).

Read more: Once a powerhouse, the Congress is now a faceless entity in Odisha

On Tuesday, as many as 35 leaders, including legislature party leader Narasingha Mishra, legislators, former state chiefs and ex-MPs, met Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to press for the demand for Harichandan’s removal, arguing that the move will resurrect the party and re-energise the cadre.

Former state chief Niranjan Patnaik has emerged as the front-runner for the top post.

The sources said Gandhi assured the leaders that the changes will be announced in next few days and told them that he has already received a report from a three-member team constituted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in July to assess the political situation in the Biju Janata Dal (BJD)-ruled state.

Read more: In Odisha, Modi is the new hero; Naveen Patnaik has a fight on his hands

The Congress leadership is worried over the BJP’s expanding foothold in the eastern state as evident from the outcome of the panchayat elections.

The BJP pushed the Congress to the third spot and occupied the space of the principal opposition party.

First Published: Sep 06, 2017 00:08 IST