BJD likely to name its candidates for RS polls today

Bhubaneswar: After endorsing Independent candidate and sculptor Padma Vibhushan Raghunath Mohapatra for the Rajya Sabha polls, BJD supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is likely to announce other three names as party’s candidate for the elections to the Upper House on Monday, said sources.

Among the probable candidates of the party, the names of Panchayati Raj Minister Kalpataru Das and Handloom and Textiles minister Sarojini Hembram are doing the rounds in the political circle, added sources.

“It all depends upon the party. If I am given any new responsibility, I would discharge it sincerely,” said Das hinting that the BJD supremo has already started discussions on the issue with other party leaders.

Being a woman as well as tribal leader, Hembram fulfills the party’s desire to send a leader who can fill in the shoes of both Renubala Pradhan and tribal leader Mangala Kisan.

Notably, of the 10 Rajya Sabha seats from the state, the term of two BJD MPs – Renubala Pradhan and Mangala Kisan, Congress MP Rama Chandra Khuntia and BJP MP Balbir Punj is ending on April 2.

Speculations are rife over the nomination of other candidates as well. Senior leader Anang Uday Singhdeo, Odisha Rural Housing and Development Corporation Chairman Bhaskar Rao, Jayadeb Parida and MLA Jinha Hikkaka are also front runners for the seat of the RS.

Meanwhile, former MP and Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Ranjib Biswal will be the Congress candidate for the fourth Rajya Sabha seat. The cricketer turned politician’s name was announced by the AICC on Sunday evening.

Biswal will now contest with stone sculptor Mohapatra for the berth in the Upper House of the Parliament.