Bhubaneswar: With two days to go for the first phase Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha, the state Congress suffered a massive setback with president of the Pradesh Mahila Congress president Sumitra Jena resigning from the post as well as the primary membership of the party.
Briefing mediapersons here, Jena squarely blamed the leadership of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik for her resignation.
“It was unbearable for me to tolerate the utter callousness and apathy of the OPCC president towards women,” she added.
Jena said she had submitted a list of 52 women candidates with eight for the Lok Sabha and 44 for the Assembly seats., but the OPCC president picked less than five per cent of the women candidate. “When I asked him why he other women who were eligible to be the party candidate not considered, he just ignored my concern saying that the party needs capable candidates to contest the polls. Now, I want him to explain the criteria and the parameters used in the selection of a candidate,” she pointed out.
Taking a swipe at Niranjan over selection of party candidates, she said he gave tickets to businessmen who had money. “Here, the winnability of the candidates which he was claiming earlier, took a backseat,” she said.
On her future political course, Jena said she is yet to decide whether or not to join any other party. “I’ll take a decision very soon.
She, however, said the decision to quit Congress was not an easy one. “I was influenced by the leadership of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. But it is very difficult to work under the leadership of Niranjan Babu, though I was among those who had fought hard to make him the OPCC president,” she noted.
Replying to the media later, the OPCC president said that his party has so far announced the name of 90 new candidates for the Assembly polls. “Now you tell me. Will there be no displeasure among the candidates who had earlier contested the elections?” Niranjan asked.