Bhubaneswar: Replacing former Union Minister Srikant Jena, Congress Thursday appointed Ganeswar Behera as the chairman of Manifesto Committee for Odisha Assembly elections 2019.
As per a press release issued by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in this regard, while Bismay Mahapatra is the convener of the 10-member panel, other members are leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra, former PCC president Prasad Harichandan, senior leaders Sudarsan Das, Shyam Sundar Hansda, Meri Surin, Natabara Khuntia, Liaqat Ali and Satya Prakash Nayak.
Earlier, Sarat Rout was the convener of the panel. Rout said the party might have dropped him as additional responsibility of West Bengal Congress has been given to him.
Welcoming the new members of the committee, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Niranjan Patnaik advised them to work unitedly and prepare the best manifesto for the party for the forthcoming Assembly election scheduled for next year.
Behera told the media that the party manifesto will be prepared after consulting all party leaders and taking suggestions directly from the people of the state.
Speculation is rife that Jena was removed from the important post as he is reportedly stabbing in the back of Niranjan Patnaik and fueling intra-party fighting. Sources also said that Jena was the mastermind behind resignation of former Koraput MLA Krushna Chandra Sagaria.
Meanwhile, reacting on the issue, Jena said, “I had made it clear that chief minister candidate should be a Dalit. If they are not agreeing with me, they can remove me from the panel.”
Calling Niranjan a ‘mining lootera’, the former minister said, “If the party is given in the hand of mines lootera (indicating Niranjan), then Rahul Gandi will later realise what will happen to the party.”
However, PCC president said the panel was decided by the AICC and he is nothing to do with that.