Sunita Biswal, a tribal woman leader from western Odisha and daughter of two time former Congress chief minister Hemananda Biswal on Saturday joined the ruling Biju Janata Dal(BJD). The development has become a major embarrassment for Congress party in general and Hemananda in particular before the ensuing Lok Sabha and assembly elections in the state.
Sunita was functioning as the working president of Congress’ Sundergarh district unit in western Odisha. Hemananda, a Congress veteran is currently heading the disciplinary panel of the Pradesh Congress Committee(PCC). He was also a former PCC chief and an ex-MP from Sundergarh Lok Sabha constituency.
Hemananda said he was certainly upset by his daughter’s move. “The development has definitely saddened me. However, she is grown up and married. I have nothing to do with her personal decision. She will work for BJD and I will campaign for Congress. I am a party veteran and I will remain in Congress till my last breath”, the senior leader said.
Sunita who joined the regional outfit in presence of party chief Naveen Patnaik said she was impressed by the clean image of the chief minister.“ The steps were taken by the BJD government for the development of women, youth, farmers and tribals also encouraged me to join the party”, she said adding she was prepared to fight the coming elections even against her father if she gets a BJD ticket.
This is the second major setback for Congress in western Odisha within a short span of two months. In the last week of January, the acting president of the PCC and a sitting MLA, Naba Kishore Das had resigned from the party to join the BJD. The Congress has been trying hard to re-establish itself in western Odisha, once considered it a pocket borough.
Interestingly, both Sunita and Naba decided to quit Congress around party’s all India president Rahul Gandhi’s Odisha visit. The latter had resigned from the party a day before Gandhi’s one-day state visit in January while the former left the party a day after the party president’s trip. Rahul was on a day-long visit to Odisha on Friday. (EOM)