Independents hold the key for third RS seat
The number one and number two candidates of the ruling BJD, Pyari Mohan Mohapatra and Sashi Bhushan Behera, easily romped home as the party had 103 members in the assembly comprising of 147 members. Both got 37 first preference votes. Three of the four members from the NCP, one from the CPI, independent MLA Rajendra Sahu and Ramesh Rout also voted for the two candidates. The number three candidate of the BJD, Baishnav Parida, had to depend upon second preference votes for victory. The vote of NCP member Navin Nanda, supporting the BJD, was declared invalid.
The joint candidate of the Congress and the BJP, Tara Ranjan Patnaik got 24 Congress votes out of a total of 27 members and got five votes from BJP members including the vote of one associate member of the BJP. The BJP had a total of six members. While the vote of Congress member Basudev Majhi was declared invalid, two other Congress members, Shivaji Majhi and Gregory Minz remained absent from the house. However, three independent MLAs Jitu Pattanaik, Braja Pradhan and George Tirkey had voted in his favour.
This time the party positions remain almost unchanged. The number of members of the political parties remain the same as it was in 2010. Only the Athgarh assembly seat remains vacant from which an independent had won the election with the support of the BJD. In a house having 146 members now, the BJD has 103 MLAs, the Congress has 27, the BJP has six including one associate member, NCP four, CPI one and there are five independent MLAs.
Poll calculations have started since there is every possibility of Tara Ranjan Patnaik once again contesting the election as the joint candidate of the Congress and the BJP. The BJD has 103 MLAs. Its alliance partners NCP and CPI have four and one member respectively. The party is also sure of the support of independent MLA Rajendra Sahu.
In case Tara Ranjan Patnaik joins the contest, he will get the support of 27 Congress MLAs and six BJP members. Independent MLA Braja Pradhan will also support him. Another independent MLA Jitu Patnaik might also support Tara like he had done last time. George Tirkey had supported him last time. However, Basudev Majhi might not take part in the election this time due to serious illness. Since no party has the adequate numbers for the victory of the third candidate, all the parties will desperately require the crucial support of the independent MLAs. It is to be observed what strategies the parties adopt to get the support of the independent MLAs.