Who will be the Leader of Opposition in Odisha this time?

BY Subrat Das

Bhubaneswar: Who will be the Leader of Opposition this time? As per norms, the office now goes to Bharatiya Janata Party as it has secured more than 10 percent seats in the 147-member state assembly.

With the state assembly elections being over, the leader of the political party, which has secured majority in the state assembly has already assumed Chief Minister’s office and the Speaker of the state assembly has been elected. But the Leader of Opposition, who enjoys status next to the Chief minister or the Leader of the House in the assembly, is yet to be appointed. The monsoon session is going to be held soon.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has won 23 seats in the 147-member House this time, has been eligible to be declared as the main opposition party in the legislature and the leader of its legislative wing will hold the office of the Leader of Opposition with the status of a cabinet minister. But the BJP legislators have not yet elected their leader who will become the Leader of Opposition.

The leader of the BJP Legislature Party would be elected by the elected MLAs at a meeting attended by a Central observer, said party spokesperson Sajjan Sharma stating that the proposed meeting would be held soon to elect the leader.

KV Singhdeo, who was elected as the BJP Legislature Party leader last time, has been defeated this time and BJP state president Basanta Kumar Panda, who was a MLA last time, has been elected to Lok Sabha this time. So, a new leader will be elected this time from among the newly elected party MLAs.

Party sources said legislative experience and the regional representation would be two major criteria for the selection of the BJP Legislature Party Leader. Sambalpur MLA Jayanarayan Mishra fits into the twin criteria. He has been elected four times (2000, 2004, 2009 and 2019) to the state assembly, had been a minister and also had been the Deputy Chief Whip of the BJD-BJP coalition in 2000. Mishra also represents Western Odisha, which has elected as many as 10 party MLAs to the state legislature. While Western Odisha region has the highest stake, Mayurbhanj district, which has elected as many as five BJP MLAs, is the next claimant.

 Next to Mishra, his party colleague from Bhawanipatna, Pradipta Kumar Naik, has equal legislative and ministerial experience. He has been elected to the state assembly for four times (1995, 2000, 2004 and 2019). He was also a minister in the BJD-BJP coalition government.

Deogarh MLA Subas Panigrahi, Udala legislator Bhaskar Madhei and Mohan Charan Majhi , who have been elected to the state assembly thrice, are the next claimants. Among the three, Majhi had been the Deputy Chief Whip of the BJD-BJP joint legislative party during 2004-2009.

Next to them, Biramitrapur MLA Sankar Oram, Dhamnagar legislator Bishnu Charan Sethi, their Paralakhemundi colleague K Narayana Rao and Nilgiri MLA Sukant Kumar Nayak are two time legislators.Apart from  these nine MLAs, fourteen others are first-timers.

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