Hours after they joined the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and Achyuta Samanta were declared as party candidates for the Rajya Sabha by BJD supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday.
Senior BJD leader Prashant Nanda was named as the third party nominee for the Parliament’s Upper House.
In view of the BJD’s adequate strength in the State Assembly, the three candidates are all set to be elected to the Rajya Sabha to fill up as many vacancies to be caused by the end of terms of members Ananga Uday Singh Deo and Dilip Tirkey (both BJD) and AV Swamy (BJD-backed Independent). The election is scheduled to be held on March 23.
Earlier a persistent Naveen Patnaik critic, Soumya Patnaik, son-in-law of late Chief Minister of JB Patnaik, had, of late, been trying for an access to the BJD through different means, including lavish coverage in the party’s favour in the media units owned by him.
According to political observers, he was inducted into the BJD apparently for support in his newspaper ‘Sambad’ and TV channel ‘Kanak News’ as the party and State Government have begun facing adverse coverage in the OTV controlled by MP Baijayant Panda’s family after he has been removed from the BJD.
Soumya Patnaik, who has a chequered political career first being in the BJP and then in the Congress and the NCP and last forming in his own party Aama Odisha, told reporters that he wanted to dissolve the Aama Odisha into the BJD and join the ruling party “to serve Odisha better”. Once, he had been elected to the lok Sabha in 1995 on a Congress ticket. All his later attempts to get elected to Parliament or Assembly failed.
Naveen Patnaik told the media that Soumya Patnaik would be “an asset” to the BJD.