No pressure of seat-sharing in RS polls: BJD

Bhubaneswar: The ruling BJD in Odisha on Tuesday asserted it was not under pressure over seat-sharing for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls, even as the BJP said it will field candidates for the elections to the Upper House of Parliament.

The BJD had last year supported BJP candidate Ashwini Vaishnav in the Rajya Sabha elections, prompting the opposition Congress to raise doubts whether the party will lend support to saffron party candidates this time as well.

“We are not under any pressure over seat-sharing for the Rajya Sabha elections. The party president will take a call on this matter,” government chief whip and senior BJD leader Pramila Mallick told reporters here.

BJP candidate Ashwini Vaishnav was last year elected to Rajya Sabha from Odisha despite the party not having the required number of MLAs.

BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik had then clarified that his party had supported Vaishnav following requests by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash said that the BJD president will choose the candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls.

Four Rajya Sabha seats from Odisha will fall vacant after completion of tenure of three BJD lawmakers — Anubhav Mohanty, Narendra Swain — and Sarojini Hembram and Congress member Ranjib Biswal on April 2.

Mohanty has been elected to the Lok Sabha in last year”s general elections.

While the BJD is set to retain its three seats, it is not sure about bagging the fourth seat that is being vacated by the Congress MP.

According to the existing formula for the Rajya Sabha polls, one candidate needs at least 29 first preference seats for victory. Since BJD has 113 MLAs, it can easily win three seats, but it is short of three members to win the fourth seat.

The BJP, with 23 MLAs which is less by 6 first preference votes for the RS Polls, said it will field one candidate for the fourth seat.

“We are likely to field a candidate in the RS polls though we are short of the required number. The party’s central committee will take a call on this matter,” Leader of Opposition, Pradipta Kumar Naik of the BJP said.

Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra, however, said his party will not be able to contest the polls as it has fewer members in the Assembly. The Congress has only 9 MLAs in the 147 member-strong House.

“But the party can nominate its candidate with the support of the Left. The Congress high command will take a decision this regard,” Mishra said.

The CPI(M) has only one member in the House and there is also an Independent MLA.

While notification for the biennial elections will be issued on March 6, March 13 is the last date of filing nominations.

Counting will be held on the evening of March 26, an hour after the conclusion of polls.


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