RANCHI: The much-awaited maiden visit of the new state Congress president Rameshwar Oraon to Steel City on Sunday failed to resolve the differences among various factions of the party. Oraon came to the city to take stock of the party organisation in view of the assembly polls, which are due later this year.
Sources said party workers and functionaries belonging to various factions abused and heckled one another outside the room where Oraon was conducting a meeting.
Also, ex-Jamshedpur West MLA from Congress Banna Gupta and former state party president and three-time Ghatsila MLA Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu walked out of the meeting.
As soon as both the local Congress heavyweights left the meeting, their supporters started shouting slogans against the East Singhbhum district Congress president Vijay Khan. Sources said supporters of Banna and former Rajya Sabha MP Balmuchu demanded that Khan be immediately removed from his office.
Sources said two days ahead of Oraon’s visit, tribal leader Balmuchu had claimed that Khan would be removed from his post when the state party chief visits the city but as no such action was taken, the leader felt insulted.
But this was not the only rift in the party, which managed to bag a solitary seat in the state in the recent Lok Sabha polls. Sources said veterans complained that those who had jumped fence and joined Congress recently were given prominence during Oraon’s visit.
Local Congress leader and trade union leader Rakeshwar Pandey and Ramashray Prasad could not find a seat on the dais with Oraon. This irked their followers.
Former IPS officer-turned-politician Oraon tried to rubbish all allegations of factionalism existing in the party. Oraon said: “All workers are living beings and everyone who can walk, talk or eat has the right to voice his or her opinion.” He added that there was no such gap between any factions. He said all leaders would get their due respect and according to the tradition of the Congress, juniors would certainly respect senior leaders. He said Congress was united.
He did not want to give any weightage to the abuses and counter-abuses which were exchanged outside his room.
Trying to divert media attention, which raised questions about factionalism within the Grand Old Party, Oraon hit out at Raghubar Das government and said that it has not delivered according to the aspirations of the adivasis and moolvasis. Taking up a local issue, Oraon said pending ownership rights in 86 bustees on the outskirts of the city would be taken up. He said he would come back to the city and organise a “padyatra” demanding ownership rights. He even said once Congress comes to power the ownership issue would be resolved.