The long list of BJD’s Rajya Sabha aspirants

Bhubaneswar: With senior leader Pratap Keshari Deb’s resignation, there are now four vacancies in Rajya Sabha from Odisha. But for the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the equation seems to be more complex. While some have already been promised a Rajya Sabha berth, there are a plenty of names doing rounds for the rest of the vacancies.

Earlier, three BJD leaders-Anubhav Mohanty, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and Achyuta Samanta had resigned from the Upper House. While Achyuta Samanta and Anubhav Mohanty were fielded by the BJD as Lok Sabha candidates, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and Pratap Keshari Deb were Assembly candidates for the party. All of them emerged victorious in the polls. Meanwhile, as Anubhav Mohanty had less than a year left in his term in Rajya Sabha, it is highly unlikely that it would necessitate by-poll this year. So in all likelihood, there will be by-polls for the 3 seats.

According to reports, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and Achyuta Samanta have nearly five years left in their Rajya Sabha tenure while in case of Pratap Deb it’s more three years.

According to sources, BJD president Naveen Patnaik had promised Rajya Sabha berths to senior leaders Prasanna Patsani and Ramesh Chandra Chaupatnaik, who were denied tickets in the general elections. If Patnaik changes his decision, there could be a mad scramble for the Upper House berths.

“CM had announced my name for Rajya Sabha and whatever he says, he does. I am doing my duty and not lobbying,” said Prasanna Patsani.

“When we had met Naveen after Bikram Panda got Berhampur Assembly ticket, I was asked to work together and assured of Rajya Sabha berth,” said Ramesh Chandra Chaupatnaik.

However, names of former MP Rabindra Jena, former legislators- Maheswar Mohanty, Akash Das Nayak along with Amar Patnaik & Srimayi Mishra are being touted for Rajya Sabha.

Winning the three Rajya Sabha seats won’t be a difficult task for the BJD keeping in view its strength in the Assembly. However, as three more Rajya Sabha seats (Ranjib Biswal, Sarojini Hembram and Narendra Swain) will fall vacant after April 2, 2020, the elections then could be tricky if the seat vacated by Anubhav Mohanty is clubbed together for polls taking the number of seats to 4.

MP Mahendra Sahu on the other hand said that BJD chief has already finalised the candidates for Rajya Sabha and only a formal announcement is awaited.