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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: With the 16th Odisha Assembly all set to commence its first session soon, in a first the State Assembly will see the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) donning the mantle of State's main opposition party. The party has dislodged the Congress party to occupy the coveted LoP (Leader of Opposition) chair this time.

Post the break-up with BJD, the saffron party was in the bewilderment and the party was at a distant third in the number game. The Party has won 23 seats this time and as many as 15 are first-time winners.

As BJP Legislature Party Leader (LPL) in 15th Legislative Assembly, KV Singhdeo, has lost the 2019 elections, the former minister in BJD - BJP alliance government and four time MLA Jayanarayan Mishra, who won the Sambalpur Assembly seat trumping BJD's high-profile leader Raseswari Mishra, has emerged as the frontrunner for the post. Jayanarayan bounced back strongly as post Bijepur by-election poll violence, he had been arrested and even was jailed.

As per norms, Speaker will recognise legislature party leader of a party that has won at least 10 per cent of the total Assembly seats. In Odisha's case, the legislature leader of a party winning 15 seats will be recognised as LoP in the State Assembly. In the 15th Odisha Legislative Assembly, the leader of Congress legislature party was the LoP as the party had won 16 seats.

However, in the race for BJP LPL, names of former minister and MLA-elect from Bhawanipatna, Pradipta Naik, and BJP State Vice-President and MLA elect Bishnu Sethi were doing the rounds.

"Whatever responsibility my party will bestow, I am ready to discharge. BJP will play an effective opposition role in the Assembly. We will make the government accountable for its deeds," said Mishra.

BJP will raise all issues that affect the public greatly. Not only inside the house, party will take on the government for its omissions and commissions even outside the house, reasoned BJP MLA elect from Brahmagiri Lalitendu Mohapatra. Similar sentiments were expressed by newly elect BJP MLA from Loisingha Mukesh Mahalingam.

Party sources say any decision on the BJP LPL will be taken post the swearing-in ceremony of PM Narendra Modi scheduled on May 30.

Meanwhile, in the 16th Assembly, the contingent of the Congress party has shrunk to mere 9 from 16 in last Assembly. But with senior leaders like former LoP Narasingha Mishra, Suresh Routray, Tara Bahinipati and Santosh Saluza, the Congress party has the lung power to make the State Assembly witness intense uproars.

"We are nine in numbers. But will play the role of 'Navagraha' in the State Assembly. Nine of us are like the 'navaratnas' of Congress party. The party will put the government on the mat on issues of public interest," said senior Cong leader Suresh Routray.

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