Bhubaneswar: Minutes after announcing the name of former bureaucrat Ashwani Vaishnav along with the party’s two senior leaders – Amar Patnaik and Sasmit Patra – as party’s candidates for by-elections to the three Rajya Sabha seats in Odisha, Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik on Friday clarified that Vaishnav will be BJP candidate for Rajya Sabha and BJD will support his candidature.
This is despite the fact that BJD has numbers to win all the three seats. The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has 112 MLAs in the 147-member Assembly.
“I think there’s some confusion. The Prime Minister and Union Home Minister spoke to me on Mr Ashwani Vaishnav. We will support his candidature,” said Patnaik.
Earlier this evening, Patnaik named BJD IT cell chief Amar Patnaik, party spokesperson Sasmit Patra and former IAS officer Ashwani Vaishnav as its candidates for by-elections to three Rajya Sabha seats in the State which is slated to be held on July 5.
The by-elections were necessitated following the election of party leaders – Achyuta Samanta, Pratap Keshari Deb and Soumya Ranjan Patnaik – to Lok Sabha and Assembly recently.
While Samanta was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kandhamal, both Deb and Patnaik resigned from Rajya Sabha after they were elected to the State Assembly from the Aul and Khandapada in the recently concluded elections.
Samanta and Patnaik’s term in the Upper House was set to end in April 2024 while the tenure of Deb was up to July, 2022.