Race For Rajya Sabha Begins

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The biennial poll assumes significance as some BJD leaders, who are unsure of getting a party ticket in the next assembly election, would be keen to land a Rajya Sabha ticket. The ruling party, which has 117 members in the 147-member Assembly, is certain to sweep all the three Upper House seats.

Race for the three Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant in April has hotted up with Panchayati Raj minister Pradeep Maharathy indicating that he would like to throw his hat into the ring. The three Upper House seats will fall vacant on April 2.

Maharathy was reported in a section of media as saying that given a chance he would quit as a minister in the state government and go to the Upper House of the parliament. Rajya Sabah members have a fixed tenure of six years.

The Rajya Sabha term of three MPs from Odisha – AV Swamy, Dilip Tirkey and AU Singh Deo is going to end in April. The biennial poll assumes significance as some BJD leaders, who are unsure of getting a party ticket in the next assembly election, would be keen to land a Rajya Sabha ticket. The ruling party, which has 117 members in the 147-member Assembly, is certain to sweep all the three Upper House seats. The Congress has 16 MLAs and the BJP 10 MLAs. A winning candidate will need the first preference vote of 37 MLAs.

BJD president Naveen Patnaik is known for throwing surprises at the last minute. In the Rajya Sabha election in November last year, necessitated due to the death of senior leader, Kalpataru Das, Naveen had nominated party’s low profile general secretary Narendra Swain to the Upper House.

Though there are many senior leaders in the party who want to go to the Upper House, they are maintaining a stoic silence on the issue because of Naveen’s unpredictable nature. Earlier Naveen sprung a surprise by suddenly asking senior leader Bishnu Das to resign and sending party spokesperson Pratap Deb to upper house in his place.

Since all the three leaders whose Rajya Sabha term is coming to an end happen to be from western Odisha, the leaders from this area are hopeful of getting a chance to be nominated by Naveen.

One of the hopefuls said, “It is the party president’s prerogative to select candidates for the Rajya Sabha. I will be able to serve the party in a better manner if sent to the Upper House.” The leader, who was earlier with the Congress, had switched his loyalty to BJD on the eve of 2014 elections and was later sent to the Rajya Sabha.

Sources said as the Dilip Tirkey and AU Singh Deo enjoys the confidence of the party, they may get a fresh term. However, if the party decides to field Tirkey from Sundergarh Lok Sabha constituency, his chances of getting a Rajya Sabha ticket will disappear.

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