BJD prepares for opposition role in Odisha assembly, eyes speaker's post

The BJD legislature party plans to elect Naveen Patnaik as the leader of the Opposition while considering fielding a candidate for the Speaker's post despite lacking enough votes, signalling its proactive stance.
Former Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
Former Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

BHUBANESWAR: With former chief minister Naveen Patnaik almost certain to take up the role of leader of Opposition in the Assembly, the BJD legislature party (BJDLP) is set to meet on June 19 to elect its leader and deputy leader.

The meeting will also take a call if the regional party will field its candidate for the post of Speaker, the election of which is scheduled to be held on June 20.

The BJP has a clear majority in the House with 78 MLAs and the support of three Independents. The BJD has 51 and the Congress has 14 MLAs. The Congress is yet to spell its position on extending support to a candidate fielded by the regional outfit. Still, both their numbers will not add up to ensure victory of the Opposition candidate.

A BJD leader, however, said by fielding a candidate for the post, the party will make a statement and begin its role as the Opposition on a positive note. In the preceding Assembly, all three Speakers were elected unanimously because of the brute majority enjoyed by the BJD. Senior BJP leader and former minister Surama Padhy has emerged as the frontrunner for the Speaker’s post in the present Assembly. She is likely to be elected on June 20 and take charge the same day.

The BJDLP will meet after oath-taking by all the party MLAs is completed. While party supremo Naveen Patnaik will be elected as the leader and take over as the next leader of the Opposition, all eyes are on his deputy, who will manage the day-to-day affairs.

A majority of the senior BJD leaders have lost the Assembly elections and the list has been shortened to Prasanna Acharya, Ranendra Pratap Swain, Arun Sahu and Pratap Deb. Sources said, one among these leaders will be elected as the deputy leader. Besides, the legislature party will also elect the chief whip and deputy whip who also play important roles in House proceedings.

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