Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Feb 6:
The ‘poaching’ of two MLAs by the ruling BJD just a day before the Rajya Sabha polls has upset all calculations of the Congress leadership, which was banking on them for the victory of its official candidate Ranjib Biswal all this while.
While the Congress bosses were quite confident that Talcher MLA Braja Kishore Pradhan will vote for Biswal, they had also hoped that the Champua MLA Jitu Patnaik would also vote in their favour since he has been supporting every stand of the party both in the Assembly and outside.
Both Patnaik and Pradhan had also voted in favour of BJP-Congress backed Independent candidate Tara Patnaik in 2010 Rajya Sabha polls, even though two Congress MLAs and one BJP MLA were suspiciously absent on the day of voting.
With both the MLAs ditching them at the very last minute, the Congress is indeed in serious trouble over the poll arithmetic.
However, the party candidate Ranjib Biswal put up a brave face and said he is not the one to give up.
“I am the party candidate and I will fight with the help of 27 MLAs of my party. I don’t believe in horse trading but I hope I will get the required number of votes,” Biswal told media persons here after the two MLAs chose to join the BJD camp.
About Brajakishore Pradhan’s sudden transformation into a Naveen loyalist he said, “I don’t know why he changed his mind. Just four days ago he was with us. But, the fact that he suddenly felt inspired by Naveen Patnaik’s leadership appears rather suspicious. It seems that Pradhan forgets things too soon.”
According sources, a number of Congress MLAs are also in touch with Naveen Patnaik and his election managers and are all set to cast their vote in favour of the BJD-backed Raghunath Mohapatra.
“The lure of getting a BJD ticket in the ensuing elections has done the trick as these MLAs do not believe they can make it to the assembly on Congress tickets,” a senior Congress leader told OST.
“Is this not horse-trading ?”, he asked.
However, PCC president Jaydev Jena insisted all the 27 Congress MLAs are with the party and that nobody is going to vote for Mohapatra.
“We had a meeting last night with the MLAs and all of them have assured us that they are with Ranjib Biswal,” Jena said.