Bhubaneswar : Amidst hectic activities in the ruling BJD and Opposition camps on the eve of Rajya Sabha polls in Orissa, Congress on Wednesday issued a whip to its MLAs to be present and vote for party-backed Independent candidate Tara Ranjan Patnaik during the election.
"A three line whip has been issued to all party legislators asking them to be present during Rajya Sabha polls and vote for Tara Ranjan Patnaik," Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan said.
Ruling out cross-voting by Congress MLAs, he said all the votes of the main opposition party, which has 27 members in the 147-member state assembly, are intact and there is no division among the members.
As last ditch efforts by both the camps to woo more legislators gained pace, the ruling BJD lodged its legislators in hotels in Puri to prevent them from being influenced by the opposition, sources said.
The ruling BJD, not sure about getting the required number of votes for its third candidate, fears poaching by the opposition camp and wants to keep all the voters under one roof amid strict surveillance till the last moment.
Though BJD has issued a whip to its MLAs, the party finds for the first time that its legislators are vulnerable to possible opposition poaching, they said.
The MLAs are not being allowed to establish contact with anybody and use their mobile phones as BJD does not want to take any risk, sources said.
BJD has fielded three candidates for all the three RS seats falling vacant from next month even as the party, which has 103 members in a housef 147, requires eight more first preference votes.
While NCP has announced support of its four votes to BJD's third candidate, two independent MLAs have also made similar statements.
BJD leaders are also confident of getting CPI's lone vote. With the support of these parties, BJD requires only one vote to ensure victory of its third candidate.
One needs 37 first preference vote to get elected to the upper house of Parliament from the state. Independent candidate Patnaik, assured to get 27 Congress votes and three from independent members, is hopeful of getting six votes from BJP and another associate member of the saffron party. PTI