Niranjan Patnaik appointed new Odisha Congress chief

The Congress on Thursday appointed Niranjan Patnaik as the party's new state unit chief in Odisha where elections are due next year.

Three working presidents -- Naba Das, Chiranjiv Biswal, both MLAs, and Pradeep Majhi, a former MP -- were also appointed, a party release said.

Patnaik replaces Prasad Harichandran. Previously, Patnaik was Odisha PCC chief from June 2011 to May 2013.

According to the release, Congress President Rahul Gandhi also made several other key appointments in the Odisha unit to put the party in poll mode amid efforts by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to make inroads in the state.

Former MP Bhakata Charan Das has been appointed Chairperson of the Campaign Committee, former Union Minister Srikant Jena will head the Manifesto Committee, former state unit chief Jaidev Jena the Core Committee and former Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal will head the Disciplinary Committee.

The Coordination Committee will be headed by Jitendra Singh, who is party in-charge of Odisha.

After being appointed PCC president, Patnaik said the Congress would fight for the interests of Odisha's people with renewed vigour.

"A road map will be prepared for the revival of Congress. We will continue our fight against the misrule of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the state and that of BJP at Centre," said Patnaik.

"Rahul Gandhi acted taking suggestions from the leaders and workers in the party. I am grateful to him for his decision to assign me the new responsibility," he added.

Patnaik, a four-time MLA, began his political career from Keonjhar and served as minister in different portfolios under the Congress regime in the state.

Several leaders including MLAs were demanding a change of the PCC president in the state. The tirade against him became shriller after the party faced a humiliating defeat in the February 2017 panchayat elections.

The party also failed to retain the Bijepur Assembly constituency, where it faced defeat in the recently-held by-elections as well.



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