With the Election Commission (EC) announcing that election to three Rajya Sabha seats in Odisha will be held on July 5, the BJD faces the task of choosing its candidates from among several heavyweight leaders.
Four Rajya Sabha seats from the state were vacated after the BJD MPs holding them were elected to the Assembly or Lok Sabha. The tenure of one of the seats expires on April 2020 and it won’t see an election.
The BJD is expected to retain all the three seats going to polls as it has 112 out of the 146 MLAs in the Assembly. One of the seats was held by BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb, who won from Aul constituency in the state polls. BJD Rajya Sabha MP Achyuta Samanta won from the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat and media baron Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, another Rajya Sabha member, won from Khandapada assembly seat.
Another Rajya Sabha seat held by Anubhav Mohanty was vacated when Mohanty won from Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat. But the tenure of the seat expires in April 2020 and an election won’t be held.
According to BJD sources, two of the Rajya Sabha seats going to polls have already been promised to BJD heavyweights. “One RS seat will go Prasanna Pathsani, Bhubaneswar’s five-time MP, who made way for former Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik to contest the Lok Sabha election. Arup lost to BJP’s Aparajita Sarangi,” said a BJD leader.
“Another seat is likely to go Ramesh Chandra Chyau Patnaik, a senior party leader from southern Odisha,” the leader added. “I have full faith in the Chief Minister. He keeps promises and keeps getting re-elected. So whatever he has announced, I believe,” Pathsani said, referring to an earlier statement by Naveen Patnaik about sending him to Rajya Sabha.
According to party sources, BJD leaders Arup Patnaik, Amar Patnaik, former Balasore MP Rabindra Jena, and A U Singh Deo are being considered for the third seat. The Congress has said it will not put up candidates for the Rajya Sabha polls. “We are only nine (MLAs) and there is no question of supporting BJP,” said Congress state chief Niranjan Patnaik.
“With 23 (MLAs), we are not in a position to elect someone to the Upper House from Odisha,” BJP’s Jay Narayan Mishra told journalists.