Congress assigns three AICC secretaries to revive base in Odisha

BHUBANESWAR: In a belated development, the appears to be striving towards reviving its crumbling base in , where the party had been out of power since 2000.
Nearly a fortnight after appointing former union minister as the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of Odisha, the party high command on Sunday assigned four other leaders to devise strategies to bring Congress back on track in the state.

In a statement, Rudra Raju, Shaikh Mastan Vali and Anil Kumar Chaudhary have been named as new AICC secretaries in Odisha whereas Aditya Sharma has been made AICC joint secretary to look after the party affairs in the state. While Raju and Vali are former MLAs from Andhra Pradesh, Chaudhary is a former Delhi legislator. They will replace Subhankar Sarkar, who had been the lone AICC secretary in Odisha since 2013-14.

For years, Odisha used to have only one AICC in-charge and another secretary to oversee the functioning of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC). Singh along with the four newly appointed AICC leaders are likely to visit Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.

“Rahul Gandhi has given special attention to Odisha. We are now hopeful of a turnaround, a success in the 2019 elections,” said senior leader Sarat Rout.

The new appointments of AICC in-charge and secretaries in Odisha has sparked a debate about the fate of Harichandan, who has been facing stiff opposition from many of his colleagues, mostly Congress MLAs for long.

Uncertainty still prevails over his continuance as party president even as he had offered to quit in the wake of debacle in February Bijepur by-poll. The party had also suffered a setback in the 2017 panchaayat elections. Some MLAs like Tara Prasad Bahinipati, Prafulla Majhi and Jogesh Singh have been questioning the leadership skill of Harichandan and demanding his replacement.

“We are glad to see the high command appointing new AICC in-charge, secretaries and joint secretary. We feel the high command should change the incumbent Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president. A complete new team will do wonders,” Bahinipati said.

Political analysts said the high command may replace Harichandan to silence his detractors ahead of elections. “Mere appointment of the party‘s central leaders cannot change its fate in the state or at the grass-roots leve. Resentment and infighting is still seen among Harichandan‘s foes. The new AICC leaders may not get the support of state leaders and grassroots workers if resentment against Harichandan persists,” said a political analyst.

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