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Orissa votes to elect three RS members

india Updated: Jun 17, 2010 15:59 IST

IANS
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Legislators in the Orissa assembly voted on Thursday to elect three Rajya Sabha members, with a prominent businessman contesting as an independent.

More than 90 percent of the legislators in the 147-member house had voted by afternoon, said assembly secretary Kishore Chandra Barik.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was the first to vote.

The contest came alive when businessman Tara Ranjan Patnaik threw his hat into the ring as an independent backed by the Congress. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also decided to throw its weight behind him.

While the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) with a strength of 103 legislators can easily get its first two candidates - Pyari Mohan Mohapatra and Shashi Bhushan Behera - elected, its third candidate, Baishnab Parida, would need an extra eight votes to make it to the upper house of parliament.

Each candidate needs a minimum of 37 first preference votes to get elected.

The ruling party with the assured support of four Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) members and a Communist Party of India (CPI) legislator is banking heavily on six independents to see its third candidate through.

With the Congress having 27 legislators and the BJP six, Tara Ranjan Patnaik needs the support of four independents of whom three have already agreed to vote for him.

"We are confident of Patnaik's victory since he enjoys the support of both the BJP and the Congress," said state BJP president Jual Oram.

The run up to the Rajya Sabha turned murkier Wednesday, with the Congress alleging that its legislator Shibaji Majhi was kidnapped by the BJD while he was on his way to Bhubaneswar from Kalahandi.

State Congress working president Bhakta Charan Das filed a police report accusing the chief minister of orchestrating the kidnapping.

The BJP too filed a police compliant alleging that its legislator, Bhimsen Choudhary has been kidnapped on Wednesday.

The two legislators have not voted in the Rajya Sabha polls till Thursday afternoon.