Defying the expulsion order handed out by the party high command, former Congress MP Soumya Ranjan Patnaik on Sunday announced that he would hold Sampark Yatra in each panchayat of the state after Durga Puja.
The expelled Congress leader took yet another dig at party vice president Rahul Gandhi wondering how his diktat prevailed over the collective wisdom of the party and and the government in the withdrawal of the ordinance on convicted legislators. He was referring to the comment made by AICC general secretary in charge of Odisha BK Hariprasad on Friday where he said no individual was greater than the party.
“I have always been with the people and would continue to remain with them. People’s support is my asset. No political embargo can keep me away from the people”, Patnaik said while addressing thousands of his party supporters at Khandapada.
Thousands of Congress leaders and workers from Nayagarh district had congregated at Khandapada on Sunday to hear the expelled Congress leader.
Soon after his arrival at Fategarh at about 2 pm, over a thousand Congress workers escorted him to Khandapada in a massive bike rally.
Party workers, while expressing profound grief over the decision of the party high command, assured total support to Patnaik and requested him to stay with them.
In his reply, Patnaik said, “Since you are my strength, there is no question of moving ahead without you”.
Talking about the injustice meted out to him by the party leadership, he said he became the envy of those for whom he had worked tirelessly.
Making his intentions quite clear, Soumya Ranjan said he had launched Sankalp Abhiyan in the state to rejuvenate the party that had been lying dormant since the last 14 years.
“My effort was to strengthen the party at the grassroots level by making people aware of the sacrifice and ideals of the Gandhi family. But the reward I received was just the reverse”, he said.
Expressing his gratitude to the people of Nayagarh for their massive support to him, Patnaik made it clear that there is no question of leaving Khandapada. “Khandapada is my home and its development is my first priority”, he said.
Claiming that his self-confidence and willpower had become stronger after being sidelined from the party, Patnaik said now he has come to know about the huge support for him in and outside the party in the state.
“Since people have such massive support and love for me, I would never back out”, he claimed.
Encouraging the party workers and leaders to remain calm and composed at this critical juncture, Patnaik urged them to work unitedly for the welfare of the people.
In his address, vice president of Nayagarh District Congress Hussein Khan said Soumya Babu has special love for Khandapada. Stating that the Congress had regained his self-confidence in Nayagarh district under the leadership of Soumya Babu, Khan urged party workers to work with him in the same spirit.
The informal meeting, presided over by Khandapada Block Congress president Duryodhana Swain, was addressed by several party leaders and workers who took a pledge to strengthen the leadership of Soumya Ranjan.
Meanwhile, protesting the expulsion of Soumya Ranjan from the Congress, nearly 2000 party workers and leaders including Block Congress presidents of Khandapada, Bhapur today resigned from the party and announced their unstinting support to Patnaik.