BHUBANESWAR: Three members of the ruling BJD on Friday filed nomination papers for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election to be held on March 23. BJD leaders Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, Achyuta Samanta and former minister Prasanta Nanda submitted two sets of papers to the Returning Officer in the presence of Chief Minister and party president Naveen Patnaik and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha. Editor of a leading vernacular daily, Soumya Ranjan, and founder of KIIT and KISS, Achyuta Samanta, had joined the BJD on March 7. “All the three members will speak strongly in the interest of the State in the Upper House,” the Chief Minister said after the filing of nominations.
Naveen said his Government will persist on its demand for a Special Category Status for Odisha. “We have been demanding Special Category Status for Odisha since long and are doing so again,” the Chief Minister told reporters. “I will try to raise issues which I think need attention for the long-term development of Odisha,” said Soumya Ranjan, who heads Ama Odisha, a regional political outfit. To criticism on his joining the BJD, Soumya Ranjan said there are two kinds of criticism - one is constructive while the other is without any reason or basis.
“I have nothing to say on criticism without any reason. However, I accept all criticism with humility,” he added. Talking to reporters after filing papers, Samanta said he will give importance to issues that the party raises and those which will be in the interest of the State. Nanda said issues like Polavaram, Mahanadi water dispute, Centre’s negligence to Odisha will continue to be the main agenda.
With more than two-third majority (118 members in a house of 147), the BJD is comfortably placed to elect all three members to the Upper House. The Opposition Congress and BJP having 15 and 10 members respectively in the Assembly are unlikely to field their candidates. The last date for filing nomination papers is March 12. The three seats will fall vacant as the tenure of AU Singhdeo, Dilip Tirkey and AV Swami (Independent) is ending on April 2.