BJD backs sculptor Raghunath Mohapatra for 4th RS seat

Bhubaneswar: Putting all speculations to rest, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday declared to extend his party’s support to renowned sculptor and Padma Vibhushan awardee Raghunath Mohapatra for the fourth Rajya Sabha seat as an independent candidate.

“Padma Vibhushan Sri Raghunath Mohapatra, the famous sculptor is going to stand as an independent candidate for the Rajya Sabha. Because of his international name in promoting Odisha’s art and culture the BJD will support his candidature for the 4th seat of the Rajya Sabha as an independent candidate,” chief minister Naveen Patnaik declared.

Soon after the announcement, Mohapatra who was too present on the occasion, said, “I am feeling delighted and proud that in the coming days I’ll try my level best to take the art and culture of Odisha to the next step.

“I appeal all the political parties to support and help me promoting Odisha’s rich culture nationally and internationally,” a seemingly delighted Mohapatra said.

On what would be the first step if elected to the Upper House, the doyen of stone sculpture said, “It’s all because of Lord Jagannath for who I am here. Steps towards conserving Konark and Puri temples will be my priority. I feel pity when I look at the sorry state of temples in Bhubaneswar which are in a deteriorating condition. It really pains me,” he stated.

On the other hand, the septuagenarian’s candidature seems to be unanimously supported by both BJP and Congress, as none has the required numbers in the Assembly to get its candidate elected for the fourth Rajya Sabha seat.

Earlier in the day, while the BJP had made it clear that it would back an apolitical person for the seat, the Congress is yet to make its stand clear.