Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Even as CPI on Wednesday decided to support Independent candidate Raghunath Mohapatra in the February 7 Rajya Sabah elections, the suspense over the support of BJP and Independent legislators still continues as they keep their cards close to their chest about their moves for the fourth seat.

CPI convened a meeting in this regard at the state secretariat of CPI and a decision was taken, partymen said.

State CPI secretary Dibakar Nayak told media persons that its MLA Adikanda Sethy will support Mohapatra, who is pitted against Congress’ Ranjib Biswal.

“The party has taken a decision to support Mohapatra in the Rajya Sabha polls,” said Nayak.

Political observers however maintain that the eminent sculptor, already backed by the ruling BJD still needs the support of 10 votes for a smooth sail to the Upper House.

Notably, while BJD has only 18 surplus votes for Mohapatra, Biswal is short of three votes only.

In this context, the BJP’s six votes will play a decisive role in deciding the fourth seat. Yesterday, Jaynarayan Mishra after BJP legislature party meeting, said: “We have sent our recommendation to the Parliamentary Board for its consideration. We will make our stand clear after its approval.”

Mishra, however, maintained that the party is firm on its decision to maintain equidistance from the Congress and the BJD.

Now the saffron party is in a fix on account that while the central leadership is said to be against sending a Congress candidate, the local unit is opposed to the BJD-sponsored Independent candidate Mohapatra for obvious political reasons.

Meanwhile, suspended BJP MLA Bhimsen Choudhury’s Tuesday announcement that he will not abide by the party’s decision on the issue of voting for the fourth candidate has given a spin to the ensuing polls.

“I will act as per my conscience and vote for the candidate who is most suitable for the State,” Choudhury said.

He further announced that he will not contest the forthcoming Assembly elections on BJP ticket either.

On the other hand, Independent MLA George Tirkey on Monday maintained suspense over his support to the fourth seat.

Tirkey, president of the Samata Kranti Dal however hinted that he may abstain from voting. "No doubt I am against the BJD, but I don't support the Congress. I may or may not vote," he said.

The other Independent MLA, Jitu Patnaik, has also not announced his support for any candidate so far. Three other Independent legislators- Braja Kishore Pradhan (Talcher), Rajendra Kumar Sahu (Khurda) and Pratap Chandra Sadangi (Nilgiri)- have already announced their decision.

While Pradhan has his support for the Congress candidate, Sahu will support Mohapatra. Sadangi will go with the decision of the BJP.