Need for change of guard in state Congress: Odisha unit chief

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The President of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC), Niranjan Patnaik, said on Thursday that there is need for a change of guard in state Congress and the sooner it happens, the better.

Patnaik made this statement in the wake of demand for change of OPCC President by several Congress leaders following poor performance of the party in the recently-held panchayat and urban polls in the state.

“Changing the leadership of PCC usually occurs every two-three years and the new president will not also stay in the post permanently. There is a need for change in the OPCC and the sooner it happens, the better,” Patnaik told reporters here.

When asked if he had sent a resignation letter to the party leadership, the Congress leader said, “I had offered to resign from my post in 2019. But when the All India Congress Committee (AICC) will take a call on this, it is up to them.”

Stating that there are many eligible leaders in the state Congress to replace him, Patnaik said that he will extend his full cooperation to the new state unit chief as he is not going to switch over to any other party.

Commenting on this issue, party MLA Mohammed Moquim said, “Congress is a disciplined party. Whatever decision the AICC will take, we will work accordingly. I hope that Odisha Congress will witness a ‘Nabakalebara’ (complete revamp) by this month end.”

Patnaik has been the OPCC chief since 2018. During his tenure, Congress’ position in state politics slipped to third from second following the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

The BJP has emerged as the principal Opposition party in the state.

The Congress also witnessed a debacle in the recently-concluded panchayat and urban elections. The party won only 37 Zilla Parishad seats out of the 852 seats in Odisha. In the 2017 panchayat elections, it had won 60 seats.

In the urban polls, the Congress managed only 12 per cent of the total votes and won seven chairperson seats as against 13 seats in 2013-14.

It failed to open its account in the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, with its mayoral candidate losing the deposit.

Moreover, only one seat was won by the party in the Berhampur Municipal Corporation, which has 42 seats.

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