Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Oct 30:
Even though the Election Commission of India is yet to issue a notification for the Rajya Sabha polls, Odisha politics is abuzz with 56 contenders lobbying to get a BJD nomination for the seat lying vacant following the death of Kalpataru Das.
The winning candidate will get to serve the remaining term of Das, which is close to four and half years. Even though, not a full six year term, a BJD nomination assures victory and that explains the long list of aspirants.
As per a reliable source active in the power corridors of BJD, while some of the top political contenders include Former Minister Bishnu Das, Rabi Narayan Nanda, Pratap Keshari Deb, Prasanna Acharya, BJD general secretary Narendra Swain, Deputy Chairman of Odisha State Planning Board Bhaskar Rao etc, quite a few retired and about to retire administrators are also eyeing to get into the House of Elders. Besides, names of noted sculptor Padma Shri Raghunath Mohapatra and technocrat Sam Pitroda are also doing the rounds in the power circle.
Candidates from different spheres and walks of life are eyeing the coveted position as a Rajya Sabha candidature doesn’t involve the trouble of braving the heat and dust for a campaign, spend crores and yet keep guessing about the result. No wonder, some of the most influential names of the state are in fray to win the favour of the BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik.
As per the source, while some of the political heavyweights have started trying out the easiest method to get elected (read: influence nominators and buy out voters), rest others are pushing their names to use it as a tool to gain influence in regional politics.
Not a man in BJD politics, however, dares to come out in open to make a statement.
“Nothing has been finalized. It is up to the Chief Minister. He will nominate whoever he deems fit,” said an elusive senior party leader who refused to reveal any further information and didn’t want to be named either.
If past records are anything to go by, the methods of functioning of party supremo Naveen Patnaik can best be termed as unpredictable and opportunist. Past selections of candidates amply justify this claim. At one point, Ollywood actor Anubhav Patnaik was sent to Rajya Sabha and at another the Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly Bhupinder Singh was brought into party fold and sent to parliament while much more deserving men were left wanting.
There are also instances of selection of men who never were in the race. Such candidates include Dilip Tirkey, Renubala Pradhan and Rabi Narayan Mohapatra. The case of Raghunath Mohapatra whom BJD backed but left vulnerable in February 2014 Rajya Sabha polls should also be kept in mind by aspiring candidates.
If our source is to be believed, Naveen this time is targeting weakening BJP and Congress in the state by selecting the candidate. That is going to be decisive factor more than the ability of the candidate to represent the state in the upper house of parliament. Besides, he knows it well that no matter how unhappy the party leaders are, not a man would speak up afraid of falling out of favour.
He anyway would get a second chance to pacify three of the sulking souls, as the terms of Bhupinder Singh, Baishnab Charan Parida and Pyarimohan Mohapatra get over on July 1, 2016. Given BJD’s strength in the state assembly, all vacant seats are almost certain to go to its kitty.
While the Rajya Sabha nomination doesn’t seem to be much of a trouble for Naveen, the local leaders have started playing their cards. Given the stature of a MP, no local leader wants a MP from their district as it would challenge their one-upmanship at the district level.
Politics apart, the end result doesn’t seem very promising. Though the BJD nominee would have a smooth sail to the destination, all eyes will be on the ‘consensual’ candidate to be declared by its president.
Going by the past turn of events while announcing the candidates, the state stands to lose in case the selection criteria are compromised with. In all likelihood, the undeserving candidates would fail to raise topics in state’s interest in the parliament.