In a major setback for the opposition Congress in poll-bound Odisha, its working president and Jharsuguda MLA Naba Kishore Das has resigned from the primary membership of the party. He has, however, not resigned from the membership of the Odisha assembly, election to which is slated to be held along with the Lok Sabha polls this year. Das, a two-time legislator, has sent his resignation letter to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is scheduled to visit the state on January 25.
In the letter, Das apologised for resigning from the party. A copy of the resignation letter was also sent to Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik and All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge of Odisha, Jitender Singh.
In the letter, Das said he will join the ruling BJD to take forward the developmental activities in his Jharsuguda assembly constituency. Das stated that he has resigned from the Congress following requests by voters of Jharsuguda who want the area to be developed. "I do not have any complaint against Niranjan Patnaik, president, PCC, Odisha. I have a very cordial relationship with him... I apologize for this resignation as done so (sic) for the moto i.e development first. So I should join hands with Naveen Patnaik," he said in the letter and indicated that he would join the BJD on January 24.
Two days ago, when Das indicated that he would quit the Congress, Niranjan Patnaik had said it will not affect the poll prospects of the party. Das is a popular leader in Jharsuguda district. He had defeated BJD candidates in 2009 and 2014 assembly elections. He is also credited with ensuring Congress victory during the 2017 zilla parishad elections in Jharsuguda.
Of the nine zilla parishad seats in Jharsuguda district, Das had ensured the victory of Congress candidates in eight. Niranjan Patnaik wrote on Twitter, "As I had clarified to media, news like this does pain me. But, in hindsight, I think this is good for us. People who are not committed to the ideology & treat politics as commercial activity are doing great service to us by quitting."
(With inputs from agencies.)