Around 25 years ago, the Congress pitted him against veteran Biju Patnaik in Bhubaneswar assembly constituency. Prasad was a political novice at that time. Although he was unsuccessful in 1990, there was no looking back after that, as he got elected to the Odisha Assembly in 1995, 2000 and 2009 from Satyabadi assembly segment. An ardent follower of Gandhi family, today Prasad is a force to reckon with in Odisha Politics.
Freelance Journalist and Social Activist Sangram Panda (Bhubaneswar) speaks to Prasad Harichandan, who has been appointed as the PCC President at a time when the Odisha Congress is fighting against the odds to make its presence felt.
SP: Did you expect this elevation?
PH: Not at all. It was unexpected and the timing shows the top party brass has a lot of faith on me. Today the congress in the state is passing through a worst time and to lead the party at this crucial juncture, is most challenging. I hope we can live up to the expectations of the party leadership.
SP: What will be your immediate agenda as the PCC President?
PH: Naveen Babu’s clean image today is at its lowest ebb. Corruption has been institutionalized. It is not ‘I’ but ‘We’. All senior, junior leaders, workers, well wishers will put a collective leadership to strengthen the party. We will reach out to the people in villages and towns with our agenda. And, to achieve its goal as a pro-people party, the Congress will involve students, youths, women, minorities, SC & ST and all cross-sections of workers and leaders. We all the congress people will work as a family, a cohesive unit, without my discrimination.
SP: There have been talks about former CM and Ex Assam Governor J.B. Patnaik’s involvement in Odisha politics. Will he be a liability or asset for the Congress?
PH: JB is a great intellectual and politician. He has done a lot for Odisha congress. Undoubtedly, he is an asset for the party.
SP: How do you view the call given by J.B. Patnaik that efforts should be made to bring back the congressmen who have left the party?
PH: It is a good idea. We will take a decision on it soon.
SP: The Odisha Congress is faction ridden. How do you think it will work as a cohesive party?
PH: You are right. But, it is history now. Today the Congressmen have decided to bury the hatchet and work unitedly to restore the lost glory of the party. People will see what is going to happen within six months.
SP: What do you consider the most important challenge for the congress in the coming days?
PH: We think that the Naveen Government which is involved in mining, land and chit fund scam should be exposed. We are planning to launch agitations at Grampanchayat and block level against the corrupt practices of the state government and spread awareness among the common people.
© Odisha News Insight.