Speculation begins on BJD RS candidates; all eyes on Naveen

Bhubaneswar: With the dates for the biennial Rajya Sabha polls announced, speculation has begun on who will fill the three seats from Odisha that would fall vacant. Given the fact that BJD has 117 MLAs, it is a foregone conclusion that BJD will win all three seats which will be vacated in due course by Pyarimohan Mohapatra, Baishnab Parida and Bhupinder Singh.

Political observers believe that Bhupinder Singh, who left the Congress and joined BJD on the eve of the elections in 2014, might get another chance after holding the seat for two years. While former Finance minister and BJD vice-chairman Prasanna Acharya’s name has started doing the rounds, Bimbadhar Kunwar’s name is also being touted as a serious contender since the party has no representative from the Dalit category in the Upper House now.

On the other hand, veteran Biju Patnaik-era leader and former minister Surendranath Nayak is also being talked about in political circles
as a possible candidate. As BJD has no representation in the Upper House from Southern Odisha, Planning Board vice-chairperson N Bhaskar Rao is also in the race, while some claim BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb to be a rightful claimant for a seat in the Rajya Sabha.

“I hope a person with a clean image and no criminal antecedents will be nominated for the Rajya Sabha,” said BJD spokesperson Pratap Jena.

“I have not discussed the issue with the Chief Minister from my side. Neither have I received any suggestions or recommendation from his side. When I receive any such intimation, I will inform the media,” said BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb.

As per the arithmetic, BJD needs the support of 111 MLAs to win the three Rajya Sabha seats – 37 for each. With 117 MLAs in the House, BJD in all likelihood will send all three candidates to the upper house.

“BJD has a clear majority and it is obvious. But not having a majority doesn’t mean there will be no election or contest. Both the possibilities of participating and not participating in the election are open. It will depend on high command’s decision,” said Congress spokesperson Ganeswar Behera.

“If an independent candidate is in the race, then BJP could think about participating. However, BJP doesn’t have the numbers and may not participate in the election,” said BJP’s Pradeep Purohit.

Notably, the nominations will be filed for the Rajya Sabha polls on May 31, while election will be conducted on June 11.