Himansu Shekhar Rout

Ending days of speculation, the Biju Janata Dal(BJD) announced the names of Debashish Samantaray and Subhasish Khuntia as nominees to the Rajya Sabha. However, the ruling party is yet to announce its third nominee. 

Debasish Samantaray, who was the MLA of the Barabati-Cuttack constituency, had reportedly been preparing the ground in the Paradip constituency. He is the BJD’s district unit president of Cuttack. Political analysts believe that the nomination of Samantaray to the Upper House indicates that he is being removed from Cuttack politics.

On the other hand, the BJD has played a surprise card by nominating Subasish Khuntia, who was seen as one of the contenders for the BJD ticket in the Puri Assembly constituency. He is currently the vice president of Biju Yuba Janata Dal. Khuntia’s posters were seen in various parts of Puri as he was reportedly hoping to contest the Assembly polls. 

It was earlier speculated that Puri MP Pinaki Misra was not interested in contesting for Lok Sabha this time and was keen for the Rajya Sabha nomination.

Earlier, the name of Santrupt Misra, who joined the BJD recently, was also doing rounds as a frontrunner in the RS nomination race.

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Reacting to the RS nominations, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Surath Biswal said, "We have nothing to say about the leaders being nominated by the BJD to Rajya Sabha. However, the tradition of representation in the Upper House is that senior and experienced leaders are usually nominated."

He further observed, "We see what kinds of leaders are being nominated by the BJD to the Rajya Sabha. Experience and political maturity of the leaders are not taken into consideration by the ruling while nominating the leaders to the Upper House.”

The BJP leader pointed out that the BJD has taken such a decision to take leaders from Puri and Cuttack after going through a survey report.

Senior journalist Prasanna Mohanty observed that the nomination of two leaders gives no message, but hints at the BJD’s well-thought-out strategy ahead of the upcoming polls. 

“Subhasish’s nomination is a surprise. The young leader is a good organizer in Puri. There was friction between two groups – one camp led by late MLA Maheswar Mohanty’s supporters and the other led by Subhasish. This indicates that one of the family members of late Maheswar Mohanty is likely to get a ticket,” he added.