Race for Rajya Sabha seats from Odisha begins

Bhubaneswar: Countdown has begun for three Rajya Sabha seats from Odisha as the tenure of BJD MPs- AU Singhdeo, Dilip Tirkey and party-supported member AV Swami is scheduled to end in April.

Keeping the number of MLAs in view, the BJD is hopeful of acquiring all the seats. Party insiders said probability of re-nomination of old members to the Upper House is less. Hence, talks are doing rounds that spokespersons Prashant Nanda & Rabi Nanda, party vice president Bimbadhar Kuanar, leaders Muna Khan, Raghunath Mohanty and Umesh Swain might get a chance.

“As I am in politics, I have every right to aspire for Rajya Sabha. No Muslim member is currently representing the State neither in Lok Sabha nor Rajya Sabha. I hope our party president Naveen Patnaik would consider me as an option,” Munna Khan said.

Some political experts feel that BJD president, like in previous instances, may choose someone who is least expected.

Names of some important personalities having good track record in social service like AIIMS professor Ashok Mohapatra, film director Nila Madhab Panda, former Accountant General Amar Patnaik, Skill Development Authority chief Subroto Bagchi are also doing rounds.

“If I am given a chance, I would have to think first how I can discharge the responsibilities of a politician and a doctor simultaneously,” Dr Ashok Mohapatra, who has been instrumental in separation surgery of Kandhamal conjoined twins, said.

On the other hand, some ministers and MLAs have also evinced interests openly for a berth in Upper House. Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy is also keen for a seat in Rajya Sabha. “If Naveen Patnaik sends me to Rajya Sabha, I would vacate the office of the Cabinet minister. There is a special charm in becoming an MP,” he added.

Party MLA and spokesperson Arun Sahoo, however, said that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is the final authority in this regard. “He will take a final call after discussing the matter with other senior leaders,” he added.