The Telegraph
Tuesday , June 20 , 2017

Choked, Cong leader quits

Bhubaneswar, June 19: The Congress's most visible face in the state on social networking site and electronic medium, Sulochana Das, today resigned from the party and is expected to join the BJD.

Das, who is the party spokesperson and a general secretary, said: "I am feeling suffocated in the faction-ridden Congress. The party is directionless, and I see no future for the Congress in the state."

That Das was likely to join the BJD became evident after she called on chief minister Naveen Patnaik at his residence today.

The BJD, which is trying to rope in leaders from other parties to strengthen its support base, will be more than happy to reward Das, who is quite an articulate leader.

Naveen today brought former law minister Raghunath Mohanty, who had been removed from the post of BJD's vice-president, again into the party fold. Mohanty had got embroiled in a dowry harassment case involving his son and daughter-in-law.

Das's departure from the Congress was taken lightly by Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan, who said: "It will have no impact. Only those leaders, who maintain secret understandings with other parties, leave the party."

In the past two months, over a dozen district-level leaders had deserted the Congress, accusing it of lacking direction.

Das, who posted her views in the social media, said: "I was shattered every day when I saw serious indiscipline and lack of co-ordination between the OPCC and the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), and it became very difficult for me to work in the party."

Das said she had gone to apprise AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi of the state of affairs in the party but could not meet him. "I had left a letter for him, but I am yet to get any response," she said.

The state unit is split into various groups, and Das could not fit into any, she said. "The communal forces are raising their head in Odisha because of the weakness of the Congress, and I felt ashamed to continue in the Congress," she said.

On the other hand, the return of Mohanty, once considered the trusted lieutenant of Naveen, is expected to strengthen the organisation, and the party leaders expect Naveen to reward him with a party post.

The former law minister had to step down from the government in March 2013 after his daughter-in-law Varsha accused his family of dowry torture. The crime branch of the state police had got Mohanty arrested from Calcutta, after he went missing. He had to spend several weeks in jail. However, last year his son Rajashree and daughter-in-law Varsha buried their differences and started living together.

Mohanty, known as a good organiser, was denied party ticket in 2014 general elections.

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