BJD leader VK Pandian announces to quit active politics after poll debacle in Odisha

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BHUBANESHWAR (Odisha) : Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader and close aide of caretaker Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, VK Pandian on Sunday announced his retirement from active politics following the party’s defeat in Odisha assembly elections.

Pandian, an IAS officer of the 2000 batch, has served as private secretary to Naveen Patnaik for over two decades. In 2023, he joined the BJD after taking voluntary retirement from the bureaucracy.

Pandian, in a self-made video, said that his only intent to help in joining politics was to caretaker CM Naveen Patnaik and it was his shortcomings that he was not able to effectively counter some of the political narratives at the right time.

“I come from a very humble family and a small village. My dream since childhood has been to join IAS and serve the people. Lord Jagannath made it happen. Because of my family from Kendrapada, I came to Odisha. Since the day I set foot on the soil of Odisha, I have received immense love and affection from the people of Odisha. From Dharamgarh to Rourkela to Mayurbhanj to Ganjam, I have tried to work very hard for the people. 12 years ago, I joined the CM’s office,” he said.

“It was an honour to be working for Shri Naveen Patnaik; the experience and the learning I had from him are for a lifetime. His grace, leadership, ethics, and, above all, his love for the people of Odisha always inspired me. His expectation of me was to implement his vision for Odisha and we successfully crossed many milestones in health, education, poverty reduction, sports, investments, women’s empowerment, infrastructure, and also in temple and heritage projects,” Pandian added.

He said that during the COVID-19 period, Pandian and Patnaik traveled to almost 30 districts to ensure the health infrastructure was ready to serve the people.

“Working for the youth, school, and college children gave me great satisfaction. My own childhood memories of studying in a convent school helped me to implement the honorable CM’s visions for school transformation under 5T. During COVID-19, we traveled to almost all 30 districts to ensure that the health infrastructure was ready to serve the people. At this time, we faced two super cyclones and we worked hard to save every precious life. I left the IAS taking voluntary retirement and joined the BJD to assist my mentor Shi Naveen Patnaik,” he said.

Pandian further said that he came to politics only to help Patnaik and had no desire for a specific political post or power.

“My only intent was to help him, as anyone would do for his mentor or family. I would like to set straight certain perceptions and narratives. Perhaps it has been my shortcomings that I have not been able to effectively counter some of the political narratives at the right time. I reiterate that I came to politics to help my mentor, Shri Naveen Patnaik, ahead of the gruelling elections and I had no desire whatsoever for a specific political post or power,” he said.

“Therefore, I was neither a candidate nor was I holding any post in BJD. For the last 12 years, I have tried to work from early in the morning till midnight, keeping Naveen Babu and Odisha as my focus,” the BJD leader added.

He also apologized to the people of Odisha and the BJD leaders saying that the party lost both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections as he could not counter the campaign narrative against him.

BJP leader Amit Shah during the Lok Sabha elections targeted VK Pandian, who hails from Tamil Nadu and asked the people of Odisha whether they would like a person from Tamil Nadu to rule their state.

“Till today, the only property that I have is what I inherited from my grandparents. I or my immediate family have no other property anywhere in the world. My property statement when I joined the IAS remains the same even today, after 24 years. The biggest earnings in my lifetime have been the love and goodwill of the people of Odisha. My intent of joining politics was only to assist Naveen Babu, and now, consciously, I have decided to withdraw myself from active politics. I am sorry if I have hurt anyone on this journey. I am sorry if this campaign narrative against me has had a part to play in BJD’s loss,” he said.

“I apologize to the entire BJD Pariwar including all the Karmis for this. And my heartfelt gratitude to the lakhs and lakhs of Biju Pariwar numbers whom I’m associated with. I’ll always keep Odisha in the core of my heart and my guru Naveen Babu in my breath and pray to Lord Jagannath for their wellbeing and prosperity,” Pandian added.

Meanwhile, Patnaik on Saturday said that VK Pandian is not his “successor” and pointed out that the people of the state would decide on this.

In a conversation with reporters in Odisha’s Bhubaneshwar, Patnaik said, “I would like to say that Mr Pandian has also worked and helped in health, education, sports, and our programme of temple restoration. Mr Pandian joined the party but has not had any posts. I have always clearly said that when they asked me about my successor, I said clearly that it was not Mr. Pandian. I repeat it. The people of Odisha will decide my successor.”

The Biju Janata Dal suffered a defeat in the Odisha assembly polls at the hands of the Bharatiya Janata Party, putting an end to the 24-year-old reign of Naveen Patnaik.

The Bharatiya Janata Party secured 78 seats in the 147-seat assembly. The BJD secured 51 seats, way behind the majority mark of 74 and the Indian National Congress secured 14 seats.

In the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, also BJP performed well by securing 20 out of the 21 parliamentary seats in the state; the remaining one seat was won by Congress. (ANI)

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