Odisha’s Deputy Speaker resigns to prepare for elections, a game of checkmate for BJD!

New Delhi: Odisha Assembly Deputy Speaker Rajni Kant Singh has resigned from his post to devote more time to working for his party BJD in the run-up to the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections in five months.

Singh, a four-time MLA from Angul, submitted his resignation to Assembly Speaker Pramila Malik in her assembly chamber in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

Singh’s resignation step assumes significance for BJD’s return to politics in Angul amid reports that Union minister and Rajya Sabha member Dharmendra Pradhan, a native of Angul district, may contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections from Dhenkanal or Sambalpur.

Angul district, known as an industrial and coal mining hub, has five assembly seats. While its Angul, Talcher, Chhendipada and Pallahara segments are part of the Dhenkanal Lok Sabha constituency, Athamallik comes under the Sambalpur parliamentary seat. Singh, who has been winning the Angul seat continuously since 2004, was elected as the vice president in 2019.

A loyalist of Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik, Singh served as the Minister of Steel and Mines from August 2012 to May 2014.

Party sources said the BJD leadership is likely to assign Singh a key organizational role in Angul. On speculations in this regard, Singh said, “It is for the party chief to take a decision.”

Singh had earlier served as BJD’s Angul district president for several years and is known to have supporters in every constituency there. His father, late Advait Prasad Singh, was also a popular leader and four-time MLA from Angul.

“Dharmendra Pradhan’s frequent visits to Dhenkanal and Angul in recent months have helped the BJP strengthen its base in the region. The saffron party may also benefit if Pradhan contests from Dhenkanal Lok Sabha seat. BJD needs a senior leader to prepare a counter strategy in the district,” said a senior BJD leader.

“Since Deputy Speaker is a constitutional post, it did not allow me to indulge in political activities. This was not a sudden decision as I had been considering resigning from the post for the last few months. Since elections are near, I have resigned to devote more time to the organization and reach out to the people wholeheartedly,” Singh told reporters.

Admitting that Singh, however, cannot match Pradhan’s political might, the BJD leader said the party needs a senior leader to set its house in order in Angul ahead of the 2024 elections.

“When Rajni Kant Singh was leading the party organization in Angul, he managed to take everyone along. Now factionalism is being seen in the party in almost every assembly constituency of the district. These things need attention for which Leo is a good option. He has people in all five constituencies of Angul,” the BJD leader said.

In view of Pradhan’s bid to contest the Lok Sabha elections, the BJD had in March this year nominated party organizational secretary and Jajpur MLA Pranab Prakash Das, popularly known as Bobby, from Keonjhar as well as Dhenkanal, Angul and Sambalpur districts. Was appointed supervisor for.

Pradhan, who is considered the face of the Odisha BJP, has expressed his desire to contest the Lok Sabha elections from the state.

In May this year, six-time Bhanjanagar MLA Bikram Keshari Arukha had resigned from the post of Speaker and was inducted as finance minister in the Panaik cabinet. Since then he has been involved in organizational work in several constituencies in the important Ganjam district.