ROURKELA: Anid fractured mandate for the 35-member Sundargarh Zilla Parishad (ZP) council, the ruling BJD, emerging as the largest party, is set to stake claim to retain the ZP council. But for this, it has to take the support of Congress, which has five seats.
Without Congress support, neither the BJD nor the BJP can form the council. The Congress, however, wants the post of ZP president by taking the support of either BJD or BJP. This has put both BJD and BJP in a piquant situation.
After official declaration of results on Saturday night, the BJD secured 14, BJP 13 and Congress five ZP seats. One seat each went to CPM, CPI and Birmitrapur MLA George Tirkey’s nominee. Eighteen is the magic figure for an absolute majority. The possibility of the BJD and the BJP entering into a post-poll alliance is remote and the Congress is playing its cards cleverly.
Sundargarh District Congress Committee president Dushmanta Naik has claimed that his party has the support of CPM and CPI and it wants the post of ZP president, reserved for ST (Woman). He said Subdega-A ZP member Goreti Xess is the only ST (Woman) ZP member of Congress and it is up to either BJD or BJP to support her.
In fact, the Congress’ bargain has surprised the BJD and the BJP. Union Tribal Affairs Minister and Sundargarh Lok Sabha member Jual Oram said Sundargarh unit BJP president B K Mishra has been asked to hold talks with other parties. The BJP would contest the post of ZP president, he added.
Jual said the Congress’ demand is not practical. Jual also rejected any possibility of tying up with the BJD.
The BJD sources too denied any scope of joining hands with its friend-turned-foe BJP. The BJD was in alliance with the BJP in Odisha from 1998 to 2008 and the BJD-BJP combo had together fought the Sundargarh ZP poll in 2007. Rourkela Development Authority (RDA) Chairman and former BJD Minister Sarada Prasad Nayak said party chief Naveen Patnaik would take the final call.
Sundargarh Collector Bhupendra Singh Poonia said the election to the post of ZP president and vice-president would be held on March 12 and 24 respectively.