New Delhi: Jayadev Jena and Sukhdeo Bhagat have been brought in as new PCC chiefs of Odisha and Jharkhand respectively as part of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi`s plans to make the party battle ready for the next Lok Sabha polls.
Jena (62) was an AICC secretary and a former PCC chief of Odisha while Bhagat (48) had joined Congress party after a stint in the state administrative services and became an MLA in 2005.
Jena replaces incumbent Niranjan Patnaik and the tribal leader Bhagat takes over from Pradip Kumar Balmuchu, a Rajya Sabha MP.
Congress is out of power in Odisha for last 15 years, while it never came to power in Jharkhand since the new state was created in 2000.
Jena belongs to scheduled caste community and is considered to be a grassroot politician with clean image. Bhagat, a post graduate from Delhi University, belongs to Oraon community of the tribals.
In 2009, when there was speculation of Congress forming a government in the state in alliance, there was a demand to project Bhagat as CM candidate on the argument that the state did not have any Chief Minister from among Oraons, one of the four major tribes in Jharkhand.
Among the previous chief ministers in the state Madhu Koda belonged to Ho tribe, Babulal Marandi and Shibu Soren to Santhali and Arjun Munda to Munda tribe.
Age is on the side of Bhagat, as Congress prepares for a long haul in the tribal state. Recently appointed Himchal Pradesh PCC chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, a former MLA is also 48 years old. So is the new Bihar PCC chief Ashok Chaudhary, who is also in his forties.
There has been a clear focus on appointing relatively younger faces as PCC chiefs since Rahul Gandhi became the party vice president early this year.
The new PCC heads were appointed after Gandhi`s recent interaction with party leaders from the AICC to block levels in a number of states.