Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Feb 4:
While the BJP has played safe by leaving the decision on who to support for the fourth seat in the upcoming Rajya Sabha to the central leadership of the party, independent MLAs, who can tilt the balance one way or the other, have kept the two aspirants – Raghunath Mohapatra and Ranjib Biswal – guessing on who they would back.
Following the horse trading expose during the biennial elections to the upper house in 2010, both the candidates and MLAs are treading cautiously this time so as not to be exposed as the general elections is slated to be held after two months.
“No candidate has approached me yet for the Rajya Sabha elections. However, I will cast my vote for the candidate, who has done some developmental works for the state. I will take my decision on February 6, a day before the polls,” said Champua MLA Jitu Patnaik, who is considered a Congress supporter.
While Biramitrapur MLA George Tirkey has announced that that he would vote in the Rajya Sabha polls, he has refused to reveal who he would vote for.
“I have made up my mind to cast my vote in the Rajya Sabha election as per my party decision. Congress has 29 MLAs including two independents. But if it thinks that I am the No 30, then it is mistaken. Besides, I am against BJD. I had abstained from voting during the presidential elections even though I have good relation with PA Sangma. I will take a call based on who is better for the state,” said Tirkey.
The lone CPI MLA Adikand Sethy has left his decision on the party to decide on the candidate to support.
Suspended BJP MLA Bhimsen Choudhury has queered the pitch by announcing his support for the ‘most suitable’ candidate. “I will act as per my conscience and vote for the candidate most suitable for the State,” Choudhury has said. He has further announced that he will not contest the forthcoming Assembly elections on a BJP ticket either.
Choudhury was suspended from BJP for disobeying party whip during the 2010 Rajya Sabha election.
The Congress has already revoked suspension on Lanjigarh MLA Shivaji Majhi to ensure that his vote does not go against the party candidate.
Admitting the change in the environment of Odisha politics, particularly in the context of the Rajya Sabha elections, a senior BJD leader said it would be difficult to engage in horse trading this time as the party has already earned a bad name in 2010 and the matter had reached to Chief Election Commission (CEC).
“While the CEC had ordered a CBI inquiry into the horse trading in Jharkhand, we were lucky that the axe did not fall on us. It had only asked the state government to register criminal cases against the accused involved in the illegal act,” said the leader. However, the SDJM court, Bhubaneswar has already dropped the case.