Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: The controversy surrounding the withdrawal of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) from the 'Make in Odisha' conclave is continuing to intensify. The ruling-BJD has come up with its own conspiracy theory and just on the basis of its suspicion has dragged suspended party MP Baijayant Panda and CII eastern region chairperson Jagi Mangat Panda into the row. However, such allegations have been quashed by Jagi Panda who has appealed BJD not to drag her into politics.

Addressing mediapersons at a presser organised at the party office, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb today said that the manner in which CII withdrew from the event is enough to sense a conspiracy in the entire episode.

“Has it been done under pressure from CII eastern region chairperson Jagi Mangat Panda or someone else who exercises such influence? Who is the one forcing the Odisha CII chapter to not support the state government?" Deb said.

Resignations of CII Odisha Chapter President and Vice President have added to our suspicion, he added.

Deb stated, "CII was a partner in all previous ‘Make in Odisha’ events. The industry body was partner this time as well and had appointed a coordinator in February. However, citing prior engagements the CII withdrew from the event on April 4."

"BJD will not keep quiet if interests of the State are compromised for the sake of personal benefits," Deb added.

Refuting such charges, Jagi Panda said "I appeal to the BJD not to drag me into politics. As Baijayant Panda is directly involved in politics, the party can play politics with him. My love for the cause of Odisha industries will remain as it has been in the past 25 years and as the Chairperson of CII eastern region, I shall extend full support to make the event a success. BJD should contact the CII regional office or the national office regarding their suspicions and allegations."

However, amid all these accusations, the BJD has failed to provide any concrete evidence on what basis such allegations are being brought. Contrarily, the party has resorted to the excuse of MP Baijayant Panda's suspension from the primary membership of the party as the reason behind their suspicion.

On the other hand, following CII pull-out from the Make in Odisha conclave, its Odisha chapter president Arun Mishra and vice-president Subrat Tripathy have resigned from their posts. Now the question arises that under what pressure they have resigned. Startlingly, while the BJD has been holding press meets, the Odisha Industries department after just releasing a press statement is totally silent on the whole controversy. While the BJD claims that the CII has withdrawn from the conclave, why the Odisha chapter of the confederation is yet to come up with any reason to substantiate its decision? Even the national chapter of the CII is yet to furnish any clarification.

Surprisingly, OTV has come to understand that in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, the regional chapters of the CII organise such events. In case of Make in Odisha, CII, in a bid to not over-burden the national chapter had requested the Odisha chapter to organise the event. Despite this, the state government put pressure on the national chapter asking them to sign an MoU. Was it not a tactics of the government to take all the credit for the event? Is this not a substantial reason to rake up this row?

While the Industries department secretary declined to comment on the matter, Dhamra Port CEO Subrat Tripathy who resigned from the post of vice-chairman of the Odisha chapter of CII today said "I resigned to work for the interests of the Odisha government, there is no politics involved."

"The government has not taken any decision yet. Discussions are underway and the conclave will happen in November definitely. I cannot comment on anything else as it is in a discussion phase," Industries minister, Anant Das.

While on one hand, the BJD claims that the State government is capable to go ahead with the conclave even if CII pulls out, on the other hand it is all out to make the issue as controversial as possible.

Such incoherence in approach is making one ask - is it not just another chapter of the BJD-Baijayant feud rather?

Meanwhile, Baijayant Panda's spokesperson Debashis Mallick said "MP Baijayant Panda's wife Jagi Panda is being unnecessarily dragged into the controversy. This is a very unhealthy mentality. Everyone knows that a non-Odia bureaucrat is controlling the government and politics in Odisha. Such baseless allegations are being brought at his behest. Moreover, money is being extorted from many big companies for which industries are moving away from Odisha."

"The State government is habituated to put the blame on others. By bringing allegations against Jagi Panda and others, the State government feels that it will escape and give an impression that it was seriously planning something and it got sabotaged. In reality, the Odisha government has no vision at all," said BJP MLA, Pradeep Purohit.

Similarly Senior Congress leader, Jaydev Jena said "The BJD has become vindictive. If the allegations had been levelled by the CII or the Industries department then it would have been justified. All of this is just a political conspiracy and the BJD is quite flustered and worried."