Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Feb 5:
Wary of the media and Election Commission spotlight on possible horse trading in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has hit upon a brand new idea to poach on Opposition MLAs: dangling the bait of a ruling party ticket in the coming Assembly elections in lieu of their support to ensure the victory of Padma Bhushan Raghunath Mohapatra, the candidate it is backing for the fourth seat.
According to reliable sources, some Congress MLAs, unsure of wining in the ensuing elections, are in constant touch with the election managers of Naveen Patnaik about possible support to Mohapatra in exchange for a BJD ticket, which they believe is the surest possible way of entering the Assembly again.
The utter confusion in the two major opposition parties suits the designs of the ruling party just fine. The BJP, according to party insiders, is split down the middle on the question of lending its support to one or the other candidate for the fourth seat with one faction led by national general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan openly batting for Mohapatra and the other, led by state unit president KV Singhdeo, dead against supporting the ‘BJD candidate’. Bonai MLA Bhimsen Choudhury, who has already made it clear that he would neither abide by the party whip in the RS polls nor seek a BJP ticket in the next Assembly election, is certainly a prime target for Naveen’s election managers.
As for the Congress, the disenchantment of several MLAs with the candidature of Ranjib Biswal has made the BJD’s job only easier. Sources in the party said they made their intentions clear to a senior party leader who had recently approached them to seek their vote for the party candidate.
These dissident MLAs have even dared the all-powerful party high command reportedly saying that they were not ‘obedient students’ who would dance to the tunes of the headmaster. This defiance, observers say, could not have come without some kind of an assurance from the BJD that they would be fielded as ruling party candidates.
While nobody is quite sure about the number of such Congress MLAs, their support can certainly tilt the scales in favour of Mohapatra, especially if the BJP ultimately decides to abstain, as suggested by party vice president Ashok Sahu.