The Congress in Odisha suffered another setback on Friday as influential young tribal leader and working president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee Pradeep Majhi resigned from the primary membership of the party. He is likely to join the ruling BJD le by chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
Majhi has sent his resignation to the party’s working president Sonia Gandhi. “With profound respect and obedience, I beg to state with extreme sadness and pain that I have decided to resign from the primary membership of Indian National Congress,” he said in the letter. “I have a great desire to serve my people at whatever position I am which is now lacking in the Congress party. As such I am painfully quitting the party for which I may kindly be excused. I shall however perform my duties as per your ideology and serve the people with utmost satisfaction,” he added.
Though there is no word from Majhi, who was the MP from Nabarangpur from 2009-14, sources close to him say he is set to join the BJD.
Speculation about Majhi’s resignation from the Congress have been doing the rounds for weeks now. Talk of his resignation got further traction after the former MP said there was “very little difference” between the ideologies of the BJD and the Congress in ‘Khola Katha’, a popular weekly talk show on OTV, Odisha’s No 1 TV news channel, recently.
Shortly after the show was aired, Majhi met Rahul Gandhi at his Tughlaq Road residence in New Delhi on October 1 in the company of senior Congress leader and former Union minister Bhakta Charan Das in what was believed to be a last-ditch effort to persuade him not to leave the party. Though he made all the right noises after the meeting, saying
“I am very much in the Congress’, speculation about his resignation did not stop since he himself kept sending confusing signals after his return to the state. Asked if he would join the BJD, he had said. “I will consider it if I get an offer.”
Majhi’s departure will be a huge setback for the Congress in the undivided Koraput district, one of the few regions where the party still continues to wield influence. Koraput is the only parliamentary constituency among the 21 in the state, which is currently represented by Congressman, Saptagiri Ulaka, son of former tribal leader Ramachandra Ulaka. The party has already been considerably weakened in Koraput by the resignation of two former MLAs: former Kotapad MLA Chandra Sekhar Majhi and former Laxmipur MLA Kaliash Kulesika