Sitting Congress MLA rejects ticket and quits party

Prakash Chandra Behera. File photo

Ahead of the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Odisha, the Congress received a setback in the eastern state with another of its MLA deciding to quit the party on Saturday, rejecting an offer for a re-nomination to contest the upcoming polls.

Besides tendering his resignation from the party, Prakash Chandra Behera, the sitting Congress MLA from Salepur in coastal Cuttack district has also sent a hard-hitting letter to party’s national president Rahul Gandhi, complaining that he was being neglected by the state Congress leadership since the past several months.

Senior state Congress leaders do admit that the sitting MLA’s decision to quit the party will have a negative impact on the party’s image.

“It is certainly bad news for the party. He was not only a sitting MLA but was a very good organiser too”, senior Congress leader and former minister Ganeswar Behera said.

Another senior Congress MLA and party’s chief whip in the Assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati has already been quoted by local media as saying that the party had offered a re-nomination to Behera to contest the polls from his home constituency of Salepur.

Sources close to Behera said that the high profile MLA would either join the BJP or fight the coming polls from Salepur as an independent.

During the 2014 polls, Behera was the only Congress winner in the Cuttack district, which has nine Assembly constituencies.

Behera is the fourth Congress sitting MLA in Odisha to quit the party in the last few months. The party had won only 16 out of 147 Assembly seats during the 2014 polls.

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