Rahul meets Odisha Congress leaders (Lead)
Bhubaneswar, Feb 18 : Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi met grassroot party leaders in the state Monday.
Rahul Gandhi, who is on a two-day visit to Odisha, met dozens of block and district level office-bearers of the party at the district headquarters town of Sambalpur, 320 km from here.
He questioned leaders on why the party has been out of power in the state since 2000.
"It was a homely meeting. He wanted us to tell the reasons and the solutions to bring back the party to power in the state," Bijay Sahu, a local Congress leader, told reporters.
"His visit has strengthened the party," former state Congress president Sarat Patnaik told IANS.
Thousands of party workers and leaders earlier gave Rahul Gandhi a rousing welcome when he arrived at Jamadarpali airstrip near Sambalpur town, a senior district police official told IANS.
This is the first time that the 42-year-old Gandhi is visiting Odisha after assuming charge as Congress vice president. After a night halt at Sambalpur Monday, he will leave for Cuttack.
He is likely to meet office-bearers of coastal districts and block organisations, legislators and parliament members of the party before leaving for Delhi Tuesday.
The Congress has been sitting in the opposition in the state since 2000. In recent months, it has intensified organisational and political activities across Odisha.
Rahul Gandhi's visit to the state is seen as an attempt to infuse fresh vigour in the beleaguered party.