Jayadev Jena is the new Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief who replaced Niranjan Patnaik recently.
In 2013, the 62-year-old leader was brought in as part of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s plan to make the party battle ready for the upcoming polls.
Jena, a former OPCC president is also AICC general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh and Assam.
Hoping for a positive change, Congress had made Jena the new OPCC chief in May 2013. But internal feud in the party, among the Patnaiks and Jenas has weakened the party over years. However the party is yet to learn lessons from those mistakes.
In January 2014, Jena campaigned for the party candidates in Odisha Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls while Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik campaigned for BJD candidates. However, the latter routed Congress and won the polls.
The results of recent civic elections were also poor that led to several Congress candidates even refusing to file nominations for the ULB elections against BJD (they won unopposed in more than 50 seats).
Congress is out of power in Odisha for last 15 years. So, keeping in mind the clean image of BJD chief Naveen Patnaik, Congress had pitted Jena, who belongs to scheduled caste community and is considered to be a grassroot politician with clean image.
The top leadership of the party still expects that the BJD would help it someday by forming an alliance. But the chances are bleak as Naveen Patnaik’s strength is his go-alone stand. The only hope left for the local Congress members is a massive campaign by the Central leaders in favour of the UPA government in Odisha.
Political analysts think that the reason behind the sorry state of Congress in the state is the impositions of the decisions made by the high command. The OPCC has over 400 members but it is ineffective in taking any call. Every decision related to the state is being taken by the All-India Congress Committee which is of a little help in reality.
Even some of the Odisha Congress party members think that they should join BJD if they harbour any hope of becoming a member of the Assembly. In such a scenario it will be quite a tough time for Jayadev Jena to keep the party members united and motivated. Recently Odisha opposition leader Bhupinder Singh and Congress legislator party secretary Anup Sai joined the ruling BJD.