The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) won three out of four Rajya Sabha (RS) seats in the elections held today while the fourth one went to Congress’ fold, much to the surprise of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who had made all-out effort to ensure victory for the fourth seat.
BJD members Anang Uday Singhdeo, Kalpataru Das and Sarojini Hembram were elected today while Ranjib Biswal from Congress won in the election.Ensuring victory for three senior members of BJD was never a problem for Patnaik as the party had 108 seats in the 147-member state assembly. The real fight was for the fourth seat, fought between Congress candidate Ranjib Biswal and sculptor Raghunath Mohapatra, who was backed by BJD.
Among others, Congress had 27 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) six seats, Communist Party of India (CPI) one MLA and there were five independent MLAs in Odisha assembly.Since Congress had ensured 29 votes for its candidate, the BJD candidates needed at least 30 first preference votes each to get elected with the help of 90 MLAs.
This left the party with 18 surplus votes to bag a fourth seat. Realising that it would need support of Opposition parties, Patnaik had chosen sculptor Raghunath Mohapatra as an independent candidate for the fourth seat.
Patnaik had even managed to get the support of two independent candidates--Jitu Patnaik and Braja Kishore Pradhan- who had earlier declared his support for Biswal, much to the surprise and anger of state Congress leaders. Instruction of BJP central leaders of not to help the Congress win in the Rajya Sabha polls also suggested a smooth sail for Mohapatra.
However, the Congress candidate Ranjib Biswal won with 29 votes, two more than the party’s strength in the assembly with a BJP dissident member and an independent MLA casting their votes in favour of Biswal.
BJD-backed candidate Raghunath got only 20 votes--11 from BJD, five from BJP and four independent. While vote of one BJD MLA was cancelled, a BJP member abstained from voting.
The lower than expected number of votes from BJD camp for Mohapatra was because of casting of excess first preference votes to the party’s three candidates, who received more than the required 30 votes each.
It was the lack of coordination among BJD members which marred all out efforts made by Patnaik to win the fourth seats, sources said.
The ruling party now has seven members in the upper house of the Parliament.