Congress has lost Balasore, Tirtol, Pipili, Jharsuguda, Dhamnagar, Brajarajnagar and Padampur bypolls fought under Dr A Chella Kumar's supervision. (Image: DC)
Bhubaneswar: Dr A Chella Kumar, the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge for Odisha, has failed to lift the morale of the party leaders and workers in the state in his three-plus years’ stint. On the other hand, the grand old party has miserably lost seven of the nine assembly bypolls it fought under his guidance.
The more shocking fact for the party is that it finished third in six of the seven assembly bypolls as well as in the 2022 local and urban local body elections.
Chella Kumar was appointed as the party in-charge for Odisha on September 11, 2020 when Niranjan Patnaik served as Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president. He has already worked with the present OPCC chief Sarat Pattanayak who assumed his present position on May 23, 2022.
The Congress lost Balasore, Tirtol, Pipili, Jharsuguda, Dhamnagar, Brajarajnagar and Padampur assembly by-polls which were fought under his direct supervision. Except in Tirtol where the Congress candidate Himanshu Bhusan Mallick got 28,778 (17.24 per cent) votes, the party has not got a respectable number of votes.
In Balasore, Pipili and Jharsuguda assembly by-elections, the Congress candidates got 4,983 votes (3.07 per cent), 4,261 votes (2.36 per cent) and 4,496 votes (2.56 per cent), respectively. Similarly in Dhamnagar, it got 3533 votes (2.18 per cent). In Brajarajnagar and Padampur, it polled 27,831 (18.14 per cent) and 3,594 (1.73 per cent).
While the BJD had won a staggering 766 of the 853 Zilla Parishad seats in 2022, the BJP won only 41 and the Congress 37. The BJD’s vote share stood at 50 per cent in contrast with the BJP and Congress’s vote shares of 27 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively.
According to political analysts, Chella Kumar, who hails from Tamil Nadu, has failed to connect with the Odisha voters as he has been able to articulate the issues on which the party can cause consternation in the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) camp.
What is quite surprising is that the Congress under Chella Kumar has not organised any impressive statewide mass movements on the distress of farmers, corruption and law and order issues.
Soon after his appointment as Odisha in-charge in 2020, Chella Kumar had announced that his party would also hold rallies to awaken people about the ruling BJD government’s failure to address the problems of unemployment, deterioration of law and order, chit fund and mining scams; crime against women and atrocities on scheduled caste and scheduled tribes. However, there have been no imposing rallies on these issues. The veteran Congress leader has not been able to get top level central level leaders of his party to the state during his stint to build up a favourable atmosphere ahead of the 2024 elections.