Bhubaneswar, Feb. 22: The Congress rout in Odisha’s zila parishad elections has galvanised dissidents in the party. A section of party leaders are planning a trip to Delhi to meet president of the All India Congress Committee Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of the situation.
Out of the 854 seats, the Congress managed to win 119. In contrast, the BJD won 649 seats. The zila parishad elections are considered the barometer to gauge the political mood as these are fought on party symbols.
A section of the Congress leaders are planning to meet the high command and urge her to intervene immediately to save the “sinking ship” and save the party from graver humiliation in the Assembly election due in 2014.
“Most of the party leaders are in their 60s and it has not been able to draw fresh blood during the past decade. Unless the party comes to power or attracts the younger generation through a proper agenda, its future is quite bleak. For us, the 2014 Assembly election is a do-or-die situation. We have to do something on this front,” said a senior Congress leader closely associated with Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranajan Patnaik.
The party, under the leadership of Patnaik, had done badly in the civic elections in Kendrapara and was relegated to the third position in the Umerkote Assembly bypolls.
On the other hand, Patnaik, without admitting the organisational failure to take on the Naveen Patnaik government, said the phase-wise counting had affected the party’s prospects.
Moreover, the party’s electoral fortune has been seeing a downward trend over the years and there are no signs of the party reviving itself to occupy the centre stage. The Congress’s slide down has continued after 2000 and it has gained momentum after 2009. In 1997, the Congress bagged 444 zila parishad seats out of 854.
When Naveen was at the peak of his popularity during 2000-2004, the Congress had managed to save its bastion to some extent and gave a neck-and-neck fight to the BJD. While the BJD managed to bag 293 seats, the Congress just remained five seats less by capturing 283 seats.
In 2007 zila parishad polls, despite Naveen’s popularity, the Congress maintained to save its bastion and won 303 seats while the BJD bagged 345. However, the gap came closer after a few Independent members joined the Congress.
This time, the Congress, much to the concern of its cadres, has failed to put up a proper fight against the BJD. While the Congress fortune slumped further, the BJD has been able to prove its supremacy.
The Congress leaders pointed out that despite putting its best, including bringing chargesheet against the government through cartoons, it had failed to make any impression on the public mind. “The party is passing through a stage of credibility crisis,” said a Congress leader.