Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Election: BJD set to play key role

Bhubaneswar: With battle lines drawn for the election of the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha on August 9, all eyes are now on the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) which holds the key as neither the NDA nor the UPA hold a clear majority in Rajya Sabha.

Though BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is yet to open his cards, senior leaders of the party on Tuesday said that the a final decision will be taken tomorrow.

At a presser, BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra stated that JD (U) supremo and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar spoke with Naveen Patnaik today seeking support for NDA-backed candidate Harivansh Narayan Singh.

“JDU chief Nitish Kumar, BJP chief Amit Shah, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh have spoken to Naveen Patnaik seeking support for their candidates during Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman election. A final call on who to support will be taken tomorrow,” said Patra.

While the ruling NDA has fielded senior JD (U) leader Harivansh Narayan Singh from Bihar as its candidate, the name of NCP MP Vandana Chavan is also doing rounds as the united opposition’s candidate for the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman elections.

Already hectic parleys among various political parties including NDA and Congress have begun to garner support of BJD which is having strength of nine members in the upper House.

The election to the post of deputy chairman is set be a litmus test for opposition parties led by the Congress as it is eying to retain the position. The post is vacant after the retirement Congress leader PJ Kurien whose term ended in July.

Despite being the single largest party, the BJP lacks majority. All now depends on the support of regional parties including BJD, AIADMK, TRS and YSR Congress.