It all happened in December 1999. Giridhar Gamang was then chief minister of the state. The JB Patnaik group wanted to shunt him out of power, accusing him of failing to serve the 1999 Super Cyclone-affected people in the right earnest.
The JB group maintained that there was “complete governance failure” and chaos prevailed all around. They put pressure on the Congress president Sonia Gandhi for the change of leadership in Odisha.
As per the request of the JB Patnaik group, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) sent two observers – Vayalar Ravi of Kerala and Madhavrao Scindia, a senior Congress leader and former Union minister.
High drama unfolded in state capital Bhubaneswar on December 5 night, 1999 when Madhavrao Scindia and Vayalar Ravi, sitting at the State Guest House, sent feeler to Giridhar Gamang to resign from his position and began one-on-one meeting of the Congress MLAs to know their choice of a new leader.
For Giridhar Gamang who was elected to Lok Sabha for eight time and once to the Odisha Legislative Assembly (1999, from Laxmipur in Koraput district), the move by JB Patnaik group was quite humiliating. He was a not person to did not want to lie low and accept the humiliation.
Gamang decided that if he has to resign, he would do it in New Delhi. “Many conspiracies were floated against me then and I was portrayed in every negative manner. I decided that I will clarify my positions on those allegations before the Congress high command Sonia Gandhi and then flew to Delhi. There in Delhi, I tendered my resignation to Mrs Gandhi after explaining everything to her,” Gamang was then quoted as saying.
Madhavrao Scindia and Vayalar Ravi, who were then quite powerful in the Congress’ organization, never expected that a leader like Giridhar Gamang would deal with them so strongly and in complete defiance. They were taught a lesson by the tribal leader. Without accomplishing their mission, they returned to Delhi empty-handed.
Gamang was succeeded by Hemananda Biswal, a formidable Congress leader.
In Rajasthan, Congress observers – Mallikarjuna Kharge and Ajay Maken – who are on mission for leadership change in that state are now meeting the fate of Madhabrao Scindia and Mallikarjuna Kharge. Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot not only refused to meet them but cancelled the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting scheduled to be held on Sunday evening.
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