Former union minister Srikant Jena seems to be on his way out of the Congress party following his sacking from the post of chairman of the party’s poll manifesto committee on Thursday by the AICC high command.
Reliable sources said Jena had been canvassing for an SC/ST/OBC as the chief ministerial face of the party much to the chagrin of a vast majority of the Congress here.
The Congress, in Odisha, has had ST leaders as chief ministers in Giridhar Gomango and Hemananda Biswal in the past as it has had Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) chiefs from these communities.
Jena had also been taking pot shots at the OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik and his one point agenda is against the “Patnaik families” in the state, said the sources.
Allegations of Jena hobnobbing with leaders of the BJD and a central BJP minister were also being talked about in the Congress circles here.
Those opposed to Jena pointed out that he had initially refused to accept minister of state position in the Manmohan Singh cabinet on the grounds that he had been a cabinet minister under VP Singh. After sulking for a few days, he turned around and accepted the MoS post.
On Thursday, the AICC dropped Jena and appointed former minister Ganeswar Behera as the chairman of the party’s poll manifesto committee of Odisha.
Behera, who is from a scheduled caste community, is also the vice-president of the OPCC.
Bismaya Mahapatra has been appointed as the convenor of the panel.
The Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra, former OPCC president Prasad Harichandan, and six others have been appointed as members of the manifesto committee.
OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik urged the newly nominated committee members to work together and formulate a manifesto which will capture the vision of the Congress party for a prosperous Odisha.