Bhubaneswar: The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) here asserted Tuesday that 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.
Vaishnav was last year elected to the Rajya Sabha 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.
Odisha School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash said that the BJD president will choose the candidates. Four Rajya Sabha seats from Odisha will fall vacant April 2 after completion of tenure of three BJD lawmakers – Anubhav Mohanty, Narendra Swain, Sarojini Hembram and Congress member Ranjib Biswal.
Anubhav 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.
The BJP, with 23 MLAs which is less by six 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 in the Odisha Assembly, 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 only nine members in the 147-member strong House.
PNN & Agencies