Bhubaneswar: Congress MLA Suresh Kumar Routray on Saturday decried the move to deploy bouncers during the general body meeting at the Congress headquarters here a day earlier.
On Friday, burly men had stood guard outside the room where Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik and state in-charge Jitendra Singh discussed the party’s debacle in the assembly elections last year. The party had managed to win only nine seats with 16.1% votes, its lowest-ever.
A heated argument had ensued between two groups during the meeting, following which the top leadership decided to deploy bouncers to prevent troublemakers from creating unwanted situation, party sources said.
The bouncers were directed not to allow disgruntled elements into the meeting room, the sources added.
“The party is united in Balianta, Balipatna, Jatin, Khurda and Bhubaneswar and 5,000 people will immediately reach the spot on one call of ours, what will the bouncers do then. There is no place for goons in Congress,” the MLA said.
Routray said that 95 per cent of party workers were behind Niranjan, who was picked by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, and he had nothing to fear.
Another Congress MLA, Tara Prasad Bahinipati, said that any kind of indiscipline, that too even at Congress Bhawan and subsequent deployment of musclemen was not a good sign for the party.
Dissident party leaders have long been demanding a change in the leadership in the state. They alleged that the Congress has lost the trust of the people as was evident in its miserable show in the Assembly and general elections.
They also alleged that several senior leaders and sincere party workers had left the party due to the the OPCC president’s autocratic and selfish attitude.
A group of leaders had also favoured elevation of first-time Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim as the new OPCC chief.
On Friday, a group led by former Odisha convenor of the National Students’ Union of India, Itish Pradhan, had staged a sit-in protest over alleged high-handedness of senior party leaders.
Pradhan was suspended a few months ago for his involvement in anti-party activities and indiscipline, During the protest on Friday, he alleged that his suspension was a well-planned conspiracy to silence him after he spoke the truth.
Without taking the name of the OPCC president, Pradhan said he will take up the matter with the Odisha in-charge and the AICC supremo and demand action against these leaders who were trying to disintegrate the Congress in Odisha.