Lobbying In BJD For Bypoll To Three RS Seats

Bhubaneswar: The Election Commission of India issued notification for holding by-elections on three Rajya Sabha seats which has become vacant post the Lok Sabha and assembly elections.

There are three vacant seats in Odisha after the members of upper house Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, Achyut Samant and Pratap Keshari Deb won assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

While Patnaik and Deb won the Khandapada and Aul assembly seats, Samanta emerged victorious from Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat.

The notification issued by EC today mentions that elections for all three vacant seats shall take place on July 5.

However BJD bagging all the three RS seats is a foregone conclusion as the regional party with 112 members in the 146 member assembly is armed with the required number to win three seats going to by-elections.

Meanwhile hectic lobbying for tickets was underway in the ruling Biju Janata Dal, headed by chief minister Naveen Patnaik, sources in the party said.

Among the leaders vying for a Rajya Sabha ticket were former Bhubaneswar MP Prasanna Patsani, former Berhampur MLA Ramesh Chandra Chyau Patnaik, former bureaucrat Amar Patnaik, and former Balasore MP Rabinda Jena, who lost the just- concluded polls.

Senior BJP leader Prafulla Ghadai, who was expelled in 2014 and re-inducted in the run-up to the polls, was also one of the hopefuls, the sources said.

Patsani, the former parliamentarian from Bhubaneswar, said, “I was assured a Rajya Sabha berth after being denied a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections. I have full faith in the chief minister. He will make me a candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls.”

Echoing similar sentiments, former legislator Chyau Patnaik also said that he has been promised a Rajya Sabha berth by the BJD president.

The seats fell vacant after the sitting BJD MPs resigned from their membership in the wake of their election to the Lok Sabha and the state Assembly.

“Altogether, four Upper House seats in the state have fallen vacant, following the resignation of MPs Achyuta Samant, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and P K Deb and Anubhav Mohanty, but the EC issued notices for three,” an official at the Assembly secretariat said.

There will be no election in fourth seat, vacated by Mohanty, as its tenure was about to end in a year, he added.

While Samanta and Mohanty have been elected to Lok Sabha from Kandhamal and Kendrapara parliamentary seats respectively, Patnaik and Deb won the Assembly polls from Khandapada and Aul constituencies.

All three vacant seats are likely to be retained by the BJD, keeping in view the number of seats the regional party has bagged in the recently held Assembly elections.

The Naveen Patnaik-led party has 111 MLAs in the 147- member House, while the BJP has 23 legislators, the Congress nine and the CPI(M) and an Independent one each.

Two assembly seats – Patkura and Bijepur- remained vacant where polling will be held later.

As one candidate in the Rajya Sabha by-poll would require the support of 38 MLAs to win, the BJD has adequate strength to secure all three seats, the party sources added.