New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, Jan 13:
The Election Commission of India (ECI) today announced that elections to the four Rajya Sabha seats from Odisha, the term of which will expire this April, will be held on February 7.
The ECI will issue the necessary notification in this regard on January 21, Commission sources said on Monday.
Elections will be conducted for 55 seats from 16 states. While January 28 has been fixed as the last date for filing of nomination, elections will be held on February 7 and the process will be completed with the declaration of results on February 10.
The four Rajya Sabha MPs from the state, whose terms will end on April 2, are Ramachandra Khuntia of Congress, Mangla Kissan and Renubala Pradhan from BJD and Balbir Punj of the BJP.
Political analysts are of the opinion that given the respective strength of the political parties in the current Assembly, the BJD is certain to win three out of the four seats up for grabs.
The fight is essentially for the fourth seat, for which the Congress, the major opposition party, does not have the required numbers. Hard-nosed bargaining and horse trading cannot be ruled out for this seat, say analysts.
In the current Assembly, the BJD has 108 members and the Congress 27, the BJP six, the CPI one while there are seven independent members. As per the arithmetic, a candidate requires the first choice vote of 30 legislators or in other words the support of 30 MLAs to win.
Since the BJD has 108 members in the Assembly, it can easily send three members to the house of elders by exercising their first choice vote without any hassles.
However, for the fourth seat, the party has 18 first choice votes and the rest second choice votes, making it difficult for the party to secure it.
The Congress, which has 27 members in the Assembly, needs to secure the support of three more members to win the fourth seat. The party would obviously eye the support of independents to win this seat, said political analysts.
With many Congress leaders reportedly waiting to cross over to the BJD ahead of the forthcoming elections, there is no guarantee that the Congress would win the seat, political circles say.
In the event, horse trading is inevitable in the forthcoming elections to the four Rajya Sabha seats, they say.
Observers are curious to see which way BJD-BJP relations progress in the days to come: whether the two estranged partners are going to drift further away from each other or come together ahead of the 2014 general elections.