BHUBANESWAR: Engagement of bouncers at the Congress Bhavan here on Friday to prevent the entry of dissidents and troublemakers while a meeting was going on inside has come in for strong criticism from senior leaders of the party.
While president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Niranjan Patnaik denied reports about presence of musclemen at the party headquarters, dissidents and their supporters maintained that this is a new development.
Stating that no former OPCC president had engaged bouncers to intimidate leaders having differences of opinion, former minister Kanhu Charan Lenka said, “I will definitely bring this matter to the knowledge of the high command,” he told mediapersons here.
Disapproving the deployment of bouncers at the Congress Bhavan, former MP Amarnath Pradhan said a person can take such a step when he is weak and afraid of his security. “Bouncers may not have been engaged for attacking rivals, it may have been for self defence,” he said.
Party MLA Suresh Kumar Routray also decried the move to deploy bouncers during the high level meeting at the Congress headquarters a day earlier. There is no place for goons in Congress, he said and added that the entire old leadership should go and younger leaders take over for the interest of the party.
Senior Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati said any kind of indiscipline, that too even at Congress Bhawan and subsequent deployment of musclemen is not a good sign for the party as public will never like it. He demanded stringent action to stop such activities.
The OPCC president, however, said there were no bouncers at the Congress Bhavan on Friday. “People may have mistaken fat leaders like us as bouncers,” he said. However, several people looking like bouncers stood guard outside the Congress Bhavan when the meeting was going on in the presence of Odisha in-charge Jitendra Singh.
Party sources said that a heated argument had ensued between two groups during the meeting, following which the top leadership decided to deploy bouncers to prevent troublemakers from creating unwanted situation.
They were directed not to allow disgruntled elements into the meeting room. Following this, a group led by suspended Chhatra Congress leader Itish Pradhan staged a dharna demanding that they should be allowed to go inside and meet the Odisha in-charge.
Dissidents are demanding a change in the leadership in the State unit after the drubbing received by Congress in the 2019 Assembly elections. They alleged that the Congress has lost the trust of the people as was evident in its miserable show in the Assembly and General elections.
The dissidents want firsttime Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim to be appointed as the new OPCC president.”There were no bouncers at the Congress Bhavan on Friday. People may have mistaken fat leaders like us as bouncers,” said OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik.
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