RS by-polls: BJD yet to decide candidate to replace Kalpataru Das

Bhubaneswar: With notification for by-poll for the lone Rajya Sabha seat, which fell vacant after death of BJD’s Kalpataru Das, the ruling party is contemplating various candidates who might replace him in the upper house.

Some BJD parliamentarians have urged the party supremo Naveen Patnaik to send a leader from the party to Rajya Sabha.

On the other hand, though Congress has slim chances, it has decided to take up a token fight by fielding its candidate.

Bargarh MP Pravash Singh is of the opinion that a representative from Western Odisha should be sent to Rajya Sabha. “I would like to see someone from Western Odisha as there are many good and capable leaders of the party there,” said Singh.

Given the fact that there are already four members from western Odisha from BJD (three from the party and one party-supported) in the Rajya Sabha, it remains to be seen what call Patnaik takes in this regard.

There are many names doing the rounds for the Rajya Sabha membership. From Western Odisha BJD vice president and former minister Prasanna Acharya is being touted as the front runner. From Southern Odisha, names of Planning Board Vice Chairman N Bhaskar Rao and former minister Rabi Nanda are being discussed. Similarly, from Coastal Odisha, Maheswar Mohanty and Pratap Deb are also being discussed as likely candidates.

Also, in view of the fact that the Upper House lacks representation from the Schedule Caste or Dalit community of Odisha, speculations are rife that a leader representing the aforementioned group might be considered.

Moreover, Padma Vibhushan Raghunath Mohapatra who was backed by BJD in the elections and lost to Congress leader Ranjib Biswal, might also be considered by BJD to acknowledge his achievement.

However, the BJD is still tight-lipped on the matter. “We have not discussed anything about the matter till now and I don’t have any information,” party spokesperson Amar Sathpathy said.

“Whatever decision is made, it will be made by our party chief Naveen Patnaik. Definitely, someone will be selected, but that decision will be taken by our chief and the Political Affairs Committee under him,” said BJD chief spokesperson Pratap Deb.

Notably, the by-poll for lone Rajya Sabha seat from Odisha would be held on December 14. As per the schedule, the last date for filing nominations is December 3, while verification of nomination papers is on December 4. The last date of withdrawal of nominations is on December 7.