Ending months-long speculation, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Monday appointed former state minister Prasad Harichandan as Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president.
He will take the baton from incumbent president Jaydev Jena. While the Congress is sinking in the state after remaining out of power for the past 14 years, Prasad has been anointed as a youthful figure to lead the faction-ridden party.
The newly nominated president hopes to keep the flock together and revive the party from the grassroots in the coming days.
"I am an ordinary worker of the party. I am thankful to the high command for showing faith in me at this crucial juncture. I would seek the blessings of all senior leaders and cooperation of frontal organisations to revive the party in the state from the grassroots level," said Harichandan.
He said, "The challenge for me is how to restore confidence in the party in the minds of people."
A post-graduate in Political Science from Utkal University, the 50-year-old politician is known for his debating skills in the Odisha Assembly.
Harichandan was elected MLA from the Satyabadi constituency three times and was a minister in the Odisha government.
He was also the party's chief whip in the 14th assembly. He, however, lost the last assembly election from the same constituency.
The vote share of the Congress nosedived to 26.0 per cent in the recent Lok Sabha polls as compared to 32.75 per cent in 2009. A drop of about 6.7 per cent in the Congress' vote share led to the complete rout of the party.
While the Congress failed to open its Lok Sabha account in Odisha, it got only 16 MLAs in the assembly election.