Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Last Update : 10:03 AM IST

  India   All India  15 Nov 2019  A torn Congress set to fight battle for survival

A torn Congress set to fight battle for survival

THE ASIAN AGE. | AKSHAYA KUMAR SAHOO
Published : Nov 15, 2019, 7:45 am IST
Updated : Nov 15, 2019, 7:45 am IST

The decimation of the party, beginning with the fall of Hemananda Biswal government in 2000, continues.

Odisha Pradesh Congress Commiteee president Niranjan Patnaik during the 2019 election campaigning.
 Odisha Pradesh Congress Commiteee president Niranjan Patnaik during the 2019 election campaigning.

BHUBANESWAR: Pushed to the brink in successive Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Odisha, the Congress seems to be fighting its last battle of prestige in the state. The party will try its luck in the forthcoming urban local body polls in order to stage a comeback to the centrestage of Odisha politics.

With no strong leader to lead the party from the front, the grand old party's state unit is now in tatters and requires urgent course-correction to remain in existence. The decimation of the party, beginning with the fall of Hemananda Biswal government in 2000, continues. It appears to be approaching a state of complete disappearance.

After the fall of the party from power, no state leader holding the PCC chief post has ever been able to steady the ship. Except during the period from 2002 to 2004 when the party under the leadership of the then PCC chief Sarat Patnaik showed some semblance of fighting spirit, the party has not been able to put up a spectacular fight to its opponents — the BJD and Congress.

In the panchayat elections held in 2002, Sarat Patnaik put up a brave fight against the Naveen Patnaik government and won 282 zilla parishad seats, 21 short of the BJD. When the Congress was chasing the BJD with a killing spirit, the AICC leaders changed the young and dashing PCC chief Sarat Patnaik and replaced him by Jayadev Jena just on the eve of 2004 Assembly elections.

When Mr Jena was consolidating the party, he was dropped from his position and replaced by K.P. Singhdeo, a former Union minister belonging to Dhenkanal royal family. Mr Singhdeo, who did not have much acceptance at grassroots, failed to impress people. He was replaced by Niranjan Patnaik in 2013.

The new PCC chief (Niranjan Patnaik) worked with renewed spirits and ensured victory of the party in three urban body polls — Attabira, Hindol and Nuapara. Surprisingly, he was replaced again by Jayadev Jena on the eve of 2014 Assembly polls. The party fared miserably in the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

After the poll debacle, there was again a change of leadership. Prasad Harichandan took over as the new head of the state unit. However, he did not get required support of his colleagues to strengthen the party.

On April 19, 2018, he was replaced by Niranjan Patnaik. However, things had already changed for worse this time for the Congress.

The BJP, taking advantage of a weakened Congress, had positioned itself in number two position in the rural polls and inducted most of the potential leaders of the grand old party into its organisation.

Tags: niranjan patnaik