BJD Sees Politics Behind CII Pulling Out Of Make-In-Odisha Conclave

Bhubaneswar: Is the sudden withdrawal of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) from Make-in-Odisha Conclave 2018 of the Odisha Government scheduled for November this year, fallout of the ongoing tussle between Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Kendrapada MP Baijayant Panda? 

The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), from which Baijayant was suspended in January this year for anti-party activities, has alleged complicity of the new chairperson of CII Eastern Chapter and Baijayant’s wife Jagi Mangat Panda in what it terms a well-orchestrated conspiracy to sabotage the event.

Talking to mediapersons, BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra said the Odisha Government had designated the apex industry association as its industry partner for all investment promotion activities in 2015.

The CII was the industry partner for the first edition of the conclave organised from November 30 to December 2 in 2016, attracting 124 investment intents worth over Rs 3.64 lakh crore.

“The CII had agreed to extend its total support to the state government. However, things went topsy-turvy after March this year when Jagi Mangat Panda, wife of the suspended Kendrapada MP Baijayant Panda, took over as the chairperson of CII Eastern Chapter. All of a sudden, the industry body expressed its inability to partner for the conclave in view of prior engagements during the proposed dates,” he maintained.

At a media conference here on Wednesday, BJD spokesperson Pratap Dev said as per the agreement between the Odisha Government and the CII in 2016, it was decided that the Make-in-Odisha conclave would be a biennial programme.

In December 2017, the Chief Minister had announced that the conclave would be held in November-December the following year. After the announcement, the state government had invited the CII to become the partner for the conclave to which the latter had agreed. On January 12 this year, the CII had handed over a list giving details about the amount to be spent for the said event. On February 14, Nita Karmakar, senior director (Public Sector Enterprise), CII, had appointed a coordinator for the event, he said.

“While everything was going on smoothly, the CII, in a letter to the state government on April 4, informed that it was pulling out of the event. This sudden decision has raised doubts in our mind on two grounds. First, was the CII not aware of its prior engagements? Second, was CII pressurized by Jagi Mangat Panda to take this decision?” Deb wondered.

Justifying his contention, the BJD spokesperson said the sudden resignation of the chairman of CII Odisha State Council Arun Misra and vice-chairman and CEO of Dhamra Port Subrat Tripathy is a clear indication that there is a conspiracy to scuttle industrial development in Odisha.

He maintained that despite the decision of the CII, the state government remains committed to Make-in-Odisha Conclave 2018 and taking steps to make it successful in coordination with various stakeholders.

However, Jagi Mangat Panda, who is also the director of Odisha Television Ltd (OTV), has rubbished the allegations.

“I was neither aware nor involved in these discussions. I am not in Odisha State Committee and have just taken over as the CII Eastern Chapter chairperson. In fact, all issues in Odisha are handled by the Odisha state council chairperson and vice-chairperson. I have not been involved in the workings of CII in Odisha for many years now. The CII state offices always work closely with the state governments in all their endeavours. CII Odisha State Office will also provide all support to the Odisha government to make the conclave a grand success,” she said in a statement.

She also appealed not to be dragged into any politics.

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