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JB FALLS OUT OF SONIA FAVOUR 

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FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT   |   Published 24.08.01, 12:00 AM

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 24 :    Bhubaneswar, Aug. 24:  If the recent shake-up in the Orissa Congress is anything to go by, PCC chief J.B. Patnaik seems to be falling out of AICC president Sonia Gandhi's favour. Patnaik has hit a rough patch with his detractors being appointed to plum posts in the state Congress. With the appointment of former minister Saraswati Hembram as the new chief of the Mahila Congress on Thursday, the party high command has ensured that Patnaik stands cornered. Hembram, considered close to former chief minister Hemananda Biswal, replaces Umarani Patra, a Patnaik confidante. Besides this, many of Patnaik's critics have already been appointed chiefs of the Youth Congress, Chhatra Congress and the Congress Seva Dal. These four are key posts in the set-up of the state unit of the party. Earlier, Ranjib Biswal, son of former water resources minister and prominent Patnaik-baiter Basanta Biswal, was appointed state Youth Congress president. He replaced Lalatendu Mohapatra, a Patnaik supporter. Likewise, Swagatika Patnaik, was appointed president of Orissa unit of Chhatra Congress. 'The Congress high command through these moves has indicated to the former chief minister that he is not indispensable,' a party source said. AICC leader Kamal Nath's appointment as general-secretary in-charge of Orissa has also dealt a blow to Patnaik. Nath reportedly is not amenable to Patnaik's diktats unlike former Orissa in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad. Patnaik's role in the recent violence inside the Congress Bhawan here has also served to harm his image. Supporters of former Chhatra Congress president Debasis Patnaik resorted to violence inside the Congress office and raised slogans against Sonia Gandhi on her decision to appoint Swagatika Patnaik. The 'explanations' forwarded by the PCC chief was reportedly 'rejected' by the high command, which felt Patnaik could have 'averted the situation'. The PCC chief has also failed to fill up several vacancies in the party since he was nominated as PCC president almost a year ago, sources pointed out.    


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