Former union minister Chandrasekhar Sahu, 3 others quit Congress

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BERHAMPUR: In a major set back to the opposition Congress in Odisha, several senior leaders of the party in Ganjam district resigned from the primary membership of the party.

Party sources said, the leaders sent their resignation letters to the Congress president Rahul Gandhi and OPCC president Prasad Harichandan.

Those who quit the party include former union minister Chandra Sekhar Sahu, Odisha PCC secretary Bikram Kumar Panda and district Congress committee president Bhagaban Gantayat, the sources said.

Five corporators of Berhampur Municipal Corporation were also among those who put in their papers.

Sahu, who is a AICC member, said, “For the last some years there is no discipline in the Congress. The party high command is also in no mood to rectify the party organization in the state. Since 2009, the party has not utilized us and neglected us a lot. So I have taken the decision to quit the party.”

Several Congress workers, including chiefs of different frontal organizations of the party, have decided to join BJD, sources said.

These Congress leaders are to join the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) during the visit of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to Berhampur on April 4, said BJD MLA Ramesh Chandra Chyau Patnaik.

Sahu without naming any party said the Congress dissidents would join one which maintained secularism and fight for the interest of Odisha.

“The decision to join the new party will be announced soon,” he said.

Before their resignation both Sahu and Panda, who too is an AICC member, had sought the opinion of the party workers at a meeting here on Tuesday.

OPCC disciplinary committee chairperson Sandhya Rani Mohapatra said the party organisation would not be affected due to the resignations.

“Rather the party would be stronger after their exit,” she claimed.

Mohapatra, who was here to discuss the development with the party workers, dismissed the dissidents’ allegations on the party neglecting them.

“The party has given enough to them. The party had made them members of the AICC recently,” she added.

Sahu was elected to Lok Sabha from Berhampur in 2004 and was the minister of state for labour and then rural development in the Manmohan Singh led government.

With Press Trust of India inputs