In a bid to get even with the Biju Janata Dal — which dumped it just before the last Lok Sabha polls — the BJP has raised a land acquisition issue in Orissa.
On Saturday, Orissa BJP leaders led by national general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan demanded Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s resignation for the Orissa government’s approval of the acquisition of 6,000 acres of “prime agricultural land” by the Anil Agrawal Foundation for setting up Vedanta University. Of these 6,000 acres, about 1,300 acres belongs to the Jagannath Temple Trust, said Pradhan.
“A farmers’ movement is on at present, as about 22 villages and not less than 50,000 people are affected,” he said. “On 19th April, 500 farmers ... will come here to protest ...”
The status of the land at present: “Farmers are keeping a night vigil. Police did come but could not take possession of the land,” Pradhan said.
“The acquisition is nothing but real estate business,” he said. “It is a fertile three-crop land, there is a deer sanctuary that will come under it, and according to the Science and Technology Minister, there are thorium deposits in that area.”
Asked how the party justified its criticism when it was BJD’s ally when the decision was taken, Pradhan said: “The law department and the education department, which were under the BJP, had raised objections.”
The BJP leaders produced a Lokpal report indicting Orissa officials for approving the land acquisition in haste.
According to the report, while the law department had opined that the Foundation had to become a public company — it was a private company — for the land to be acquired, officials accepted its false claim that it had changed its status to that of a public company.