Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Jan 23;
All speculation about the possible consensus candidate for the fourth seat in the coming Rajya Sabha elections was firmly laid to rest on Thursday evening with Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik announcing that his party would support the candidature of Padma Bhushan Raghunath Mohapatra for the seat.
“BJD will support Mohapatra for the fourth seat because of his international stature”, announced Patnaik at his residence after meeting the Padma Bhusan awardee.
On his part, the master sculptor sought the support of all parties. “I appeal to all the political parties to support me for the cause of Odisha and the Konark temple,” said the man, who aims to build a replica of the famous Sun Temple in Konark, soon after meeting the BJD boss.
While no party has the required numbers in the Assembly to get its candidate elected for the fourth Rajya Sabha seat, the unilateral announcement by Patnaik leaves the other two major parties very little choice but to back the internationally acclaimed sculptor.
While the BJP had made it clear earlier in the day that it would back an independent candidate for the seat, the Congress is yet to make its stand clear.
The Congress, however, may fall in line for two reasons. First, Mohapatra, an apolitical person, reportedly has an excellent rapport with many senior Congress leaders. Secondly, having burnt its fingers the last time round when two of its MLAs- Shivaji Majhi and Gregory Minz – abstained, the party is wary of fielding a candidate this time.