Ending speculation, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) announced its candidates for four Rajya Sabha seats, balancing it with leaders from Western and Coastal Odisha, minority and a woman candidate.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced the names of Sulata Deo, Manas Ranjan Mangaraj, Sasmit Patra and Niranjan Bishi on Sunday.
The elections will be held on June 10 and June 13.
Deo has served the party for a long time and has also been a spokesperson. BJD supremo rewarded her loyalty by choosing her over other women aspirants. Patnaik chose Deo, who has been the advisor to the women and child development department since 2019.
Deo said: “Patnaik has been emphasising on women and child development. The CM works for all categories and all regions. I will work under the direction of Chief Minister and raise the interest of Odisha in Rajya Sabha. I am ready to work with loyalty.”
Mangaraj has been handling the BJD and subsequently the state government’s media affairs. He has been rewarded for his loyalty and media management. He is the OBC face in the nominations. “I will raise the demands of Odisha in the Upper House,” said Mangaraj.
Patra performed impressively during his Rajya Sabha stint and has been a lead party spokesperson for quite some time. He represents the youth and is from the minority community. Patra said: “I will try to live up to the faith of the CM. Developing Odisha and presenting the demand at the Centre will be priority.”
The surprise entry is Niranjan Bishi, who has lately emerged as the tribal face of the party and heads the Paschima Odisha Adivasi Kalyan Sangha. It has a good presence in Balangir, Kalahandi, Sambalpur and other Western Odisha districts. He has been drafted in to strengthen the party base in Western Odisha.
“We will look at how Schedule Tribes can benefit through various schemes,” said Bishi.
Going by regional representation, Bishi is from Western Odisha, Deo from undivided Cuttack (coastal Odisha), and Mangaraj from Balugaon in Khurda, which is also coastal Odisha. Patra is a native of Kandhamal-Gajapati region in Southern Odisha.