Bhubaneswar: Amids speculation about nominees for Rajya Sabha biennial elections, ruling BJD in Odisha on Thursday announced support for sculptor Raghunath Mohapatra as an Independent candidate for the fourth seat.
"BJD will support Padma Bibhusan Raghunath Mohapatra as an Independent candidate. He is a sculptor of international repute and has contributed toward art and culture of Odisha," BJD President and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said.
Patnaik`s announcement came after Mohapatra met him at Naveen Niwas and formally sought his party`s support.
"I do not belong to any party. Therefore, I appeal to all political parties to support my candidature. I will work for conservation and preservation of ancient monuments and temples in Odisha," Mohapatra told reporters here.
BJD will field its candidates for the three other seats.
Meanwhile, opposition BJP which has only six MLAs and support of one Independent MLA in a 147-member House, announced that the party would support a neutral person for the fourth seat.
Congress is yet to make it clear whether it would field any candidate or support an Independent candidate.
The retiring Rajya Sabha MPs are Balbir Punj (BJP), Ramachandra Khuntia (Cong) and Mangala Kisan and Renubala Pradhan (both BJD).
While the ruling party with 108 MLAs was set to secure three of the four vacant seats, it did not have the requisite numbers for the fourth seat.
BJD candidates will easily secure three seats and its fourth candidate has to seek additional votes from opposition parties.
The opposition Congress has 27 MLAs while BJP`s strength is only 6.