Bhubaneswar/Sambalpur: The strike by lawyers demanding a permanent bench of the High Court in the western region of the state entered the second day on Wednesday as the protesters rejected Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik`s appeal to withdraw the agitation.
The lawyers under the banner of Central Action Committee of All Western Odisha Bar Association are boycotting work in courts and government offices in seven Odisha districts.
"The Chief Minister has been trying to weaken the agitation and mislead people over the demand for establishment of High Court in the region," CAC convenor Ashok Das said.
Accusing the Chief Minister of taking the plea of model code of conduct for the ensuing urban poll to foil the agitation, Das asked, "When the state government could hold discussion with private bus owners association, why not with the agitating lawyers?"
Earlier, Patnaik while participating in an adjournment debate on the issue of strike in seven districts of Western region, had appealed the lawyers to call off the strike saying the state government`s hands were tied due to implementation of the model code of conduct for the urban polls.
"I appeal to the members of the Central Action Committee to call off their strike in different government offices of western Odisha. I assure this August House that as soon as the urban elections are over and the restrictions imposed by the Model of Conduct are lifted, I will call representatives of the CAC for a discussion in first week of October to address this important issue," Patnaik said in a statement.
Patnaik said the state government had already made a reference to the State Election Commission seeking their clearance to hold discussion on this subject.
"The SEC has, however, stated that having discussion at this stage will violate the model code of conduct which is currently in force for the urban polls. However, we once again moved the SEC to allow the state government to receive a delegation from CAC to discuss and resolve the present stalemate," he said.
Participating in a debate in the assembly, opposition Congress warned the state government that non-fulfilment of the demands of lawyers would fuel the demand of a separate Koshala state in Odisha.