ONI Bureau: The Congress Party, which is on the path of revival in many states, including Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, is still fighting for survival in Odisha.
The upcoming Bijepur bypoll will be an acid test for the party. The seat, which was held by late Congress MLA Subal Sahu since 2004, may go to to either BJD or BJJP, political pundits believe. The party is yet to declare its candidate while BJD and BJP have already done so.
Congress is facing another challenge today. If they lose Bijepur, they are at the risk of losing Opposition party status in Odisha Assembly. In 2014, Congress had won 16 seats. However, their strength went down to 15 after Subal Sahu’s demise. The situation worsened following the disqualification of Sundargarh MLA Jogesh Singh in a fake certificate case.
Currently, the party has 14 MLAs in the 147-member Assembly, one short from the magic figure of 15, which is needed to retain the opposition status. If party loses Bijepur, it would be at the mercy of the BJD Government, which would decide whether to strip Congress of the Opposition party status or not!