Ever since Jaydev Jena has taken over as the OPCC Chief, factionalism has reached a new high in the party. Mr. Jena, who boasts of leading the Congress Party to win 303 seats in Zilla Parishad polls during his first tenure in 2003-2008 despite a BJD-BJP alliance in the state, is back at the helm. He is confident of a much better and improved show by the Congress in the next assembly polls and vowed to oust CM Naveen Patnaik from power by rejuvenating the party leaders and cadres as well as trying to win the trust of common people. In an interview to TNI Senior Correspondent Hemanta Panda, Jayadev Jena has sought to reveal his plans and strategies in a brief.

TNI: Congratulation for the second term as OPCC President. Sir, It has been a trend for the Congress Party to go for a leadership change in Odisha before the general election, but Naveen Patnaik has been invincible since 2000. How do you see this?

JJ: Thank you. I have been appointed by the High Command to revive the party in the state. BJD is winning the elections not because of Naveen Patnaik or any of its policy, rather by highjacking all popular schemes of UPA Government. Odisha is the second largest beneficiary state to get financial assistance for Indira Awas Yojna. Besides, MGNAREGA, NRHM, Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana etc are the initiative of Manmohan Singh Government. So much so, major part of
Re 1 per kg rice has been sponsored by the Centre.

TNI: Do you think that Congress couldn’t succeed in 2009 due to your removal from party’s chief post in the state?

JJ: it might not be the sole reason, but certainly one of the major factors. During my last tenure, Congress won 303 seats while BJD got 345 seats in 2007 Panchayat elections. In addition to that, Congress won both the Talasara and Laxmipur by-elections for Legislative Assembly. However, in 2012, the tally was reduced to 126 and the Congress lost Umerkote and Athgarh bypolls.

TNI: What is your roadmap for 2014 election to bring Congress into power in the state?

JJ: I have been given a major responsibility with an eye on 2014 elections. We will reach out to the people and expose the BJD government’s involvement in various corrupt deeds from mining sector to agriculture and from implementation of developmental schemes to recent involvement in chit fund scams in the State. I do believe that discipline and united congress can oust the corrupt Naveen Govt from the state.

TNI: How will you check the rising factionalism in your party?

JJ: There is no such factionalism in Congress. I will try my level best to bring all the congress workers including women, youth, student wing and others under one umbrella. Our High Command has strictly instructed me not to tolerate any kind of indiscipline in the party. Our party will move on without bothering about the individual gains.

TNI: Congress has always been attached with lineage politics. In your case, you are the OPCC president while your son is Youth Congress president. What is your take on this?

JJ: Congress is a disciplined party. Whoever works for the people with more sincerity and discipline, he will definitely get an opportunity to lead the party. In our case, my son Sangram has been elected by the state youth congress members.

TNI: where will the buck stop in selection of the candidates?

JJ: Rahul Gandhi ji has clearly said that candidates will be selected according to their chances of winning. The final decision will be taken by the High Command.

TNI: What is your stand on special category status for odisha for which BJD has already started a signature campaigning across the state?

JJ: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should not play politics over the special category issue. Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had already announced that a committee would finalise the new criteria to determine backwardness of states for granting special category status. I do hope that Odisha’s demand will be considered favourably once the new criteria come into effect.

TNI: Thank you sir.

JJ: Thank you so much.