Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Four BJD candidates on Wednesday filed their nomination papers for the March 26 Rajya Sabha elections in Odisha.

Subhas Singh, Munna Khan, Sujit Kumar and Mamata Mahanta submitted their nomination papers to the returning officer in the presence of BJD chief and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Several state ministers, MLAs and senior party leaders were present at the Odisha Assembly.

Singh, belonging to the OBC category, is a trade unionist and has recently resigned as the chairman of the Odisha Construction Workers Welfare Board.

Khan, a party old-timer and close associate of Biju Patnaik, was an advisor to the Minorities Affairs Department, while Sujit Kumar was an advisor to the Special Development Council. Mahanta is a BJD women's wing member from Mayurbhanj district.

Four of the 10 Rajya Sabha seats from Odisha will fall vacant on April 2 after the completion of tenure of BJD lawmakers Anubhav Mohanty, Narendra Kumar Swain and Sarojini Hembram and Congress member Ranjib Biswal.

The ruling BJD is likely to sweep the Rajya Sabha elections as per the present equation in the 147-member Odisha Assembly. While the BJD has 113 MLAs, the BJP has 23, followed by nine MLAs of the Congress and one of the CPI (M). There is also an Independent legislator.

Leader of Opposition and BJP leader Pradipta Kumar Naik said his party is unlikely to field any candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections as they do not have the required numbers.

A candidate in the state requires at least 29 first preference votes to win a Rajya Sabha seat.

"There is no point in fielding any candidate as we don't have the numbers. However, the BJP's parliamentary party will take a decision in this regard," Naik told reporters.

Alleging nexus between the BJP and the BJD, Congress MLA Tara Bahinipati questioned as to why the BJP is not fielding a candidate when it has 23 MLAs.

Responding to the allegation, government chief whip, Pramila Mallik said that the BJD doesn't need a deal with any party and it has nothing to do with what the Congress or the BJP is doing.

The returning officer for the Rajya Sabha elections, Dasarathy Satpathy, said the nomination papers will be up for scrutiny on March 16 and any candidate can withdraw his/her papers on March 18.