Bishnu, Prasanna, Bhaskar Rao BJD RS candidates

Bhubaneswar: Putting all speculation to rest, BJD supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday named three senior party leaders – Bishnu Charan Das, Prasanna Acharya and N Bhaskar Rao – as its candidates for the forthcoming Rajya Sabha polls.

Announcing this at Naveen Nivas this evening, Patnaik said, “Three senior leaders of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) have been chosen for the forthcoming Rajya Sabha election. They are Prasanna Acharya, Bishnu Charan Das and N Bhaskar Rao.”

While Acharya and Das are former ministers, Rao is the deputy chairman of the State Planning Board and district president of the party’s Rayagada district unit. Das is also the party’s Jagatsingpur district president. Acharya has also represented the party in the Lok Sabha in the past.

Though speculation was doing the rounds that Bhupinder Singh, who was nominated to the Upper House in 2014, could be the party’s candidate this time too, the BJD president chose Rao for the RS seat.

In his first reaction to OTV, Acharya said, “I thank party president Naveen Patnaik for reposing faith on me. I think the tireless work done at the grassroots by the three leaders has influenced the decision by the party president.”

Thanking the party president for nominating him, Bhaskar Rao, who turned out to be the dark horse, said; “I think it is a reward for 40 years of work that I have done for the party in my area.”

Dismissing the suggestion that his nomination had anything to do with the ‘Dalit card’, Bishnu Das said; “I have been working for Biju Babu since the time I was a student and the BJD since its inception. I will endeavor to live up to the trust that the party president has reposed on me.”

True to style, Naveen kept everyone guessing till the very last minute. Speculation was rife that outgoing member Bhupinder Singh could be renominated after he met the party chief this morning.

Among the other names doing the rounds were former minister and BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb, former minister Raghunath Mohanty and sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik.