Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Naveen Patnaik’s Trusted Advisor VK Pandian Calls it Quits on Political Journey

Following the regional party’s loss in the latest polls, veteran bureaucrat and close aide to Naveen Patnaik V K Pandian declared on Sunday that he was leaving politics, garnering condemnation even from the BJD rank and file. In addition to expressing regret for the party’s defeat in the assembly and Lok Sabha elections, the former IAS officer, who spearheaded the BJD’s campaign in the just finished simultaneous elections despite being singled out by the BJP due to his Tamil heritage, also expressed regret.

“My intent of joining politics was only… only… to assist Naveen Babu, and now consciously I decide to withdraw myself from active politics. I am sorry if the campaign narrative against me has had a part to play with Biju Janata Dal’s loss. I apologise to the entire Biju Parivar, including all the karmis (workers) for this,” said Pandian, in a video message posted on his Instagram page.

It was his first time appearing in public after the disastrous BJD poll. The BJD lost 113 seats in 2019 and gained 51 seats in the Odisha Assembly as a result of the BJP winning 78 of the 147 seats. BJD was likewise unable to secure any seats in the Lok Sabha.

The IAS officer, who was born in 2000 batch in Tamil Nadu, had been working as Naveen Patnaik’s private secretary in the chief minister’s office since 2011. In October of last year, he voluntarily retired from the government. On November 27, one month later, he joined the BJD. Despite not holding a position, he was regarded as the second most powerful member in the party, after Patnaik. He had declared he will not be running for office in 2024.

Given that Pandian declared at an election rally on May 10 that he would leave politics if Naveen Patnaik did not take the oath of office as chief minister on June 9, his choice is significant. In response to the Prime Minister’s June 10 predictions of a BJP government in Odisha, he was speaking.

The decision to withdraw from active politics came a day after the outgoing Odisha CM called the criticism against the former bureaucrat “unfortunate” and said that as an officer, he did “excellent work”.

In the last 10 years, Pandian has “helped with two cyclones and the Covid-19 epidemic in the state… He is a person of integrity and honesty and should be remembered for all that,” Patnaik said while defending Pandian. Patnaik has already clarified that Pandian is not his “political successor”.

According to Pandian’s video message, he joined the BJD in order to “assist his mentor” Naveen Patnaik in the run-up to the “gruelling election.” He declared that he had zero desire for a particular position or authority.

“All I wanted to do was support him, just like anyone would for a family member or mentor.” I would like to correct certain misconceptions and myths. Maybe I haven’t been able to successfully refute some of these political myths at the appropriate times, which has been my failure,” Pandian added.

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