Efforts to put up a common candidate by opposition parties for the Rajya Sabha elections in Orissa suffered a jolt on Sunday with BJP deciding to abstain from the entire poll process.

“BJP has decided not to take part in the Rajya Sabha polls. The party will abstain from the entire process as we want to maintain equidistance from both ruling BJD as well as opposition Congress in the State,” State BJP President Jual Oram told PTI here.

The party, which has six members in the 147-member Assembly, would also not extend support to any independent candidate in the biennial elections, Mr. Oram said on the eve of final day for filing nomination tomorrow for three Rajya Sabha seats due to fall vacant from July 1.

Stating that the decision against supporting an independent candidate along with Congress was taken as the party was keen to weaken UPA at the Centre, senior BJP leader Ashok Sahu said all the six BJP MLAs and independent member Pratap Sarangi, a former party man, would abstain from voting.

BJP’s decision came in the midst of marathon discussion by Congress Legislature Party (CLP) to work out strategies for the elections.

BJD’s sitting Rajya Sabha member Pyari Mohap Mohapatra, former MLA Sashibhushan Behera and party General Secretary Baishnab Charan Parida have already filed their nominations.