Special Correspondent

BHUBANESWAR: The demand for setting up of an Indian Institute of Technology gained further strength on Thursday with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik writing to the Centre in this regard.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr. Patnaik said the UPA Government should take necessary steps to set up an IIT in the State during the 11th Plan period.

The statement by Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development D. Purandeshwari in Parliament on Tuesday that the Centre had no plan to set up an IIT in the State had come as a rude shock to the people, Mr. Patnaik said. Mr. Patnaik had on Wednesday termed the Centre's rejection of Orissa's demand as `unfortunate'.

Meanwhile, hundreds of workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party held a demonstration near Raj Bhavan demanding setting up of an IIT in the State.

Raising slogans against the UPA Government, the BJP activists alleged that the Congress-led Government was maintaining a step-motherly attitude towards Orissa.

Dissatisfied over the Union Minister's reply over the IIT issue, the MPs belonging to the Biju Janata Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party from Orissa had staged a walkout in Parliament on Tuesday.

The MPs belonging to the partner parties of the National Democratic Alliance had also supported their demand.

On Wednesday, the BJD and BJP MPs from the State had also staged a dharna near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi inside Parliament premises to highlight their demand.

The BJD-BJP ruling alliance has been blaming the UPA Government in the recent months for not setting up institutions like IIT and IIM in the State while decisions had been taken to set up such centres of higher learning in other States.