Himansu Shekhar Rout

Political circles are now abuzz about who will be picked by the Biju Janata Dal(BJD) as nominees for Rajya Sabha after three seats fell vacant recently.  With only five days left for nomination filing, the corridors of power are witnessing some movements and consternation. 
Many wonder if the ruling party will go in for a BJD-BJP combo candidate like that of Ashwini Vaishnaw, who was nominated previously.      
As per reports, a number of party leaders are aspiring for RS seats, but the ruling party is making assessments of political benefits while choosing the candidate ahead of the general elections, informed sources.

Probables in the race 

Santrupt Misra, who joined the BJD yesterday, is a frontrunner in the RS nomination race. Since he has been appointed as the party’s national spokesperson with a national-level role, there is a possibility of him being nominated to the RS. It is also speculated that BJD leader and Puri Lok Sabha MP, Pinaki Misra may not contest Lok Sabha polls this time, but may prefer the Upper House instead.

Moreover, the third candidate may be picked up from the field of Odia language and literature. Two senior leaders of the party, Prasanna Pattasani and Ramesh Chandra Chyau Patnaik are also hopeful of RS nomination, as they had earlier been assured.  

The BJD has enough electoral strength to nominate three candidates to the Upper House. Support of 111 MLAs is required by the BJD to elect its three leaders to the RS. Now, it has 108 MLAs after the suspension of three MLAs including Pradeep Panigrahi, Prashant Jagdev, and Soumya Ranjan Patnaik from the party. Telkoi MLA Premananda Nayak resigned from the party on Friday.  

On the other hand, the number of legislators in the Assembly is now 146 after the death of Digapahandi MLA Surjya Patro. In the second preference, the victory of the party’s three candidates is almost certain. 

BJP-BJD combo candidate this time?

On the other hand, the BJP has left the decision to the Central leadership while the Congress argued that the BJD and BJP may choose a candidate like Ashwini Vaishnaw this time too. 

BJD MLA Nrushigha Sahoo said, “Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will call the shots on the RS nomination, taking various factors into consideration, while elections are around the corner. Whoever is chosen by the CM, we will support them. There is no problem for the BJD to nominate three leaders to the RS. We have second preference.”

BJP leader Mohan Majhi said, “A decision to this effect will be taken as per the decision of the BJP parliamentary board. The decision will be known to you soon.”

Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati said, “The BJD had supported the BJP’s RS candidate Ashwini Vaishnaw last time. The BJD and BJP are united and may again jointly nominate Ashwini Vaishnaw.”

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