Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: The selection of Leader of Opposition in the 16th Odisha Assembly still continues to hang in balance as the State unit of BJP has now left the final call on the national party president Amit Shah. The development comes after a meeting of the BJP legislature party failed to take a consensual decision in the presence of Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Pratap Sarangi, State in-charge and party observers.

MLA Bishnu Sethi said the decision to leave the final call on LoP selection to party national chief Amit Shah was approved by everyone.

However, state party president Basant Panda informed that the candidate for the LoP post has already been selected and the announcement will be made by Shah.

It may be noted that the BJP will take the hot seat of the main Opposition in the State Assembly for the first time in history when the House will sit for the first session on June 25. The saffron party has pushed the Odisha Congress to third position in the recently concluded Assembly elections to claim the baton of Opposition.

Even as the choice for the LoP is yet to be clear, speculations are doing rounds that Sambalpur MLA and a four-time legislator Jaynarayan Mishra, Pradipta Nayak and Mohan Majhi are stated to be frontrunners for the coveted post.

"Whoever is selected as the LoP, I will be the first one to welcome him, so there is no question of unhappiness even if I am not chosen for the post," said Pradipta Nayak.

Similarly, BJP MLA Mohan Majhi said, “I will readily accept whatever responsibility the party bestows on me.”

Meanwhile, the Congress has targeted the BJP following speculations of its nexus with the ruling-BJD.

Senior Congress leader and Jatni MLA Suresh Routray alleged that both BJD and BJP are ‘friends inside and foes outside’, so the BJP will not be able to work like a true Opposition.

“BJD is born out of BJP so how can the saffron party work like an Opposition. Despite having only nine MLAs, we will raise issues of the people like a true Opposition party in the Assembly,” said Routray.

However, BJP MLA Jaynarayan Mishra said the saffron party will take no half measures in presenting the issues in the State Assembly.