Apart from his association with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Vaishnav Vaishnav has also worked in Odish. (Image credit: Twitter)
A day after being named the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee for Rajya Sabha bypolls, former IAS officer Ashwini Vaishnav on Saturday formally joined the saffron party in Odisha. The former bureaucrat joined the BJP in the presence of the party's Odisha unit president and MP Basant Panda and other senior leaders.
Shortly after the BJP named Vaishnav - who was private secretary to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee - as its candidate for the July 5 Rajya Sabha bypolls, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) announced his party's support to him. Apart from his association with Vajpayee, Vaishnav has also worked in Odisha
BJD in a press statement said, following the discussion between Naveen Patnaik and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, the BJD would support Ashwini Vaishnav’s candidature.
Winning 112 seats in the 146 Odisha Assembly, the BJD could have won all three Rajya Sabha vacancies from Odisha. Supporting Vaishnav brings back the BJP-BJD bonhomie. The BJP has 23 MLAs and nine belong to the Congress. The CPI (M) and an independent candidate won one seat each. Two seats - Patkura and Bijepur - are now vacant.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress came down heavily on the ruling BJD, accusing it of maintaining a secret understanding with the BJP which was exposed with its announcement to support the saffron party's candidate in the Rajya Sabha bypolls.
Congress stalwart and MLA Narasingha Mishra said the BJD was in a position to win the bypolls to all three vacant seats considering the number of seats it won in the state Assembly elections. Therefore, the hidden ties between the BJD and the BJP have now come to the fore, he said.
The bypolls in the state will be held to the seats vacated by Achyuta Samant, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and PK Deb. There will be no election for the seat vacated by Anubhav Mohanty. The Election Commission issued notification for three seats as a year is left for the tenure of the fourth seat (Anubhav Mohanty's) to end, sources said.
While Samant and Patnaik's tenure as Rajya Sabha members is till April 2024, Deb will have to retire in July 2022. Mohanty's membership is supposed to end in April 2020.