Bhubaneswar, August 7, 2018: With no clear majority of NDA and UPA in Rajya Sabha, BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik could be a game changer in Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman election scheduled to be held on August 9.
And with the BJD holding the key to the election of Rajya Sabha’s Deputy Chairman, both the ruling NDA and the opposition parties are trying to woo Patnaik. Senior leaders like BJP president Amit Shah, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, and JD (U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar have reportedly spoken to Patnaik over telephone seeking his support.
JD (U) MP Harivansh Narayan Singh will be contesting the Deputy Chairman election as the candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Notably, Patnaik had sought Nitish Kumar’s support when BJD supported PA Sangma as Presidential candidate. However, JD-U had then supported UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee.
BJD Parliamentary party leader in Rajya Sabha Prasanna Acharya said that party’s decision will be announced on Thursday as Naveen Patnaik is in Mumbai to meet industry leaders.
“After consulting with party MPs, decision will be taken. The party’s decision will be announced tomorrow,” said Acharya.
Ruling BJP and main Opposition Congress are planning ahead to grab the post for their allies. Either the BJP or Congress does not have enough strength to win the post. Therefore, the support of BJD, including the TRS and the TDP is important.
The BJD has nine members in the Rajya Sabha. In a 245-member Upper House, halfway mark to win Deputy Chairman post is 123. The present strength of Rajya Sabha is 244 (one is vacant) and to win the Deputy Chairman post, a candidate would require the support of 122 members.
The BJP is currently the largest party in the Upper House with 73 members. And with its allies and supporting parties, which includes the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS), the number will be 115 votes.
Now, speculations are rife over Patnaik’s decision as he had earlier emphasised on maintaining equidistance from both the Congress and the BJP.
However, the regional party had supported BJP during the Presidential election last year and extended its support to the Congress candidate for the Vice-President post.
Meanwhile, the BJD confirmed that Nitish Kumar telephoned Patnaik and informed him that Harivansh Narayan Singh in the election for Deputy Chairman will be contesting the election as the candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and urged him to extend support to Singh.
Patnaik told Nitish Kumar that he will take a decision after consultation with party leaders, said BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra.
The Deputy Chairman will be elected on August 9. The post of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman has become vacant after the term of PJ Kurien ended on June 30.