Bhubaneswar: Ruling BJD heavyweight Surjya Narayan Patro was unanimously elected as the speaker of the 16th Odisha Assembly Saturday. The seven-time legislator’s name was proposed by Leader of the House and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and seconded by Parliamentary Affairs Minister B K Arukha. There was no other candidate for the post of speaker, Protem Speaker Amar Prasad Satpathy said. After 70-year-old Patro’s name was announced as the Speaker, he was escorted to the Speaker’s podium by the chief minister and senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twist “I congratulate the new speaker,” Patnaik said. Mishra said, “We hope the new speaker will function above political considerations and give protection to the opposition to further strengthen democracy.” “I am happy that the House elected me to the post of the speaker unanimosuly. I thank the leader of the house and chief minister, and all the MLAs for their cooperation,” said Patro, who became the 22nd speaker of the Odisha assembly. As the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has 112 MLAs in the 147-member assembly, the election to the post of speaker was a mere formality. Also Read – India receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France While the BJP has 23 MLAs, nine belonged to the Congress, the CPI(M) bagged one seat and there is an Independent member. Patro was elected to assembly seven times from Ganjam district. He represented Mohana seat four times and got elected from Digapahandi thrice, including the recently held polls. He was first elected to the assembly in 1990 on Janata Dal ticket from Mohana and continued to win all the elections since then. Patro has served as minister of different departments in the governments headed by Biju Patnaik and Naveen Patnaik. In the previous government, Patro was food supplies and consumer welfare minister.