In a setback for the opposition Congress ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly elections, its Salipur MLA Prakash Behera on Saturday resigned from the primary membership of the party. Earlier, three MLAs - Nabakishore Das, Jogesh Singh and Krushna Chandra Sagari, had resigned from the Congress. While Das and Singh joined the BJD, Sagaria went to the BSP.
In a letter to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Behera said that he has decided to quit the party after being ‘ignored’ by the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) leadership.
Behera, who was for the first time elected from Salipur segment of Cuttack district in 2014, said he has also sent his resignation letter to OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik.
"I worked in the party for last 20 years, but did not get importance in the Congress," Behera told reporters. The Congress legislator claimed that he had raised certain issues with the OPCC president, but they were "ignored".
The Salipur MLA had earlier given indication about his move when he stopped using party flag and banners during a recent padyatra in his constituency.
Asked whether he will join the BJD, Behera said: "I will take a decision after consulting my supporters and seniors in Salipur."
He said that he will take a decision in this regard within a day or two. With Behera's resignation, the number of the Congress MLAs in the 147-member Odisha Assembly has come down to 11.
Of the 16 Congress MLAs elected in 2014 elections, four have resigned from the party and one Subal Sahu from Bijepur in Baragarh district had passed away. Simultaneous polling will be held in Odisha for its 21 Lok Sabha seats and 147 Assembly constituencies in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.