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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Lashing out at the Odisha government, BJP on Saturday termed the ongoing agitation in front of Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys Ltd (IMFA) plant at Therubali in Rayagada as a 'State-sponsored' act.

Addressing a press conference, Odisha BJP general secretary, Bhrugu Baxipatra alleged that even though the agitation is in its sixth day, the district administration does not have any clarity on who is leading such protests.

Baxipatra also pointed towards the involvement of a newly-elected MP of the ruling party in encouraging such protests.

The administration so far has not taken any steps to put an end to such unrest. Though similar protests have taken place at three other industrial units in the district, the unrest at IMFA plant is different, the BJP leader said.

"SP and Collector have not visited the spot so far. Even if the agitation is genuine, the way in which such protests are being carried out is not justified. Under such circumstances it appears that such protests are State-sponsored," said Baxipatra.

The agitators armed with traditional weapons are trying to create an impression that tribals are leading such agitation. Locals as well as others are now in a state of panic, he said.

"We have information that a newly-elected MP is instigating the agitators and we urge the Odisha government to take concrete steps to resolve the issue before the situation goes beyond control," Baxipatra added.

Similarly, Senior Congress Leader, Jaydev Jena condemned the unrest at IMFA plant and said it is a conspiracy to settle political scores.

"It is a conspiracy against MP Baijayant Panda hatched with an aim to settle political scores. Even a common man is realising that it is a manifestation of anger they harbour against Baijayant Panda," said Jaydev Jena.

Earlier, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also stated that Odisha government is giving a free hand to agitators to take law into their hands in the name of protests.

"From media reports, it is learnt that Odisha government is putting pressure to hold talks with agitators on road which is similar to a kangaroo court," said Pradhan.

BJD spokesperson, Rabi Nanda on the other hand, refuted the involvement of his party in the entire episode.

"Tribals in the region have many problems and they are staging a demonstration. BJD is not involved in such protests and it seems that the party is being unnecessarily dragged into the controversy," said Nanda.

Amid such unrest at IMFA plant, question now arises - is there any State government encouragement behind such protest or not and who is Jitu Jakasika, who is claiming to be the leader of tribals and leading such protests? Why has he become a part of such conspiracy against IMFA?

In 2010, Jitu first came to limelight while interacting with Rahul Gandhi adorning traditional tribal attire during anti-Vedanta protests in Niyamgiri. However, later he underwent a total transformation and came close to various office bearers of the ruling-BJD and especially, Rajya Sabha member Achyuta Samant's institution KISS. Even he campaigned during the elections as a ruling party leader. Currently, he is the member of the State government-constituted tribal development council.

Recently, Maoists had issued death threats to Jitu claiming him to be anti-tribal. His photographs with various leaders are also adding to speculations as to at whose behest Jitu is leading such protests at IMFA plant.

"Jitu Jakasika speaks to Rahul Gandhi, Naveen Patnaik and also BJP leaders; he speaks to everyone," said Jitu.

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