Odisha Assembly Elections 2024 | Pandian quits active politics after BJD’s defeat

In a video message, Pandian said his only intention to join politics was to assist Naveen Patnaik, which is why he did not contest in the 2024 elections.
Last Updated : 09 June 2024, 10:05 IST

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New Delhi, June 9: Controversial Odisha bureaucrat V K Pandian on Sunday announced his retirement from active politics days after Biju Janata Dal was routed from the eastern state by BJP, riding on a high-pitched campaign targeting Pandian as an “outsider”, who holds the remote control to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

"My intent in joining politics was only to assist Naveen Babu, and now I consciously decide to withdraw from active politics. I am sorry if I have hurt anyone on this journey. I am sorry if this campaign narrative against me played a part in BJD’s loss," Pandian said in a video message released in social media.

Earlier this week BJP stormed to power in Odisha ending BJD’s 24-year long rule. The saffron party won 78 out of 147 seats in the assembly while capturing 20 of 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state. BJD won 51 seats in the assembly and none in the Lok Sabha.

Defending his close aide, BJD president Naveen Patnaik on Saturday termed the ongoing criticisms against Pandian as "unfortunate" and praised him for doing an "excellent job."

Patnaik also clarified that Pandian was not his successor. "There has been some criticism of Pandian. This is unfortunate. He joined the party and has not held any post. He did not contest the elections from any constituency. I have always clearly said when asked about my successor that it is not Pandian. I repeat again that the people of Odisha will decide my successor."

Announcing his decision, Pandian expressed his apologies to the entire Biju Parivar, including all the workers, and conveyed his heartfelt gratitude to the lakhs of BJD members with whom he was associated.

"I will always keep Odisha in the core of my heart and my Guru Naveen Babu in my breath and pray to Lord Jagannath for their well-being and prosperity," Pandian said.

Reflecting on his background, Pandian mentioned that he came from a humble family and a small village, and his childhood dream was to join the IAS and serve the people, which Lord Jagannath made possible.

He also explained that he came to Odisha because his wife is from Kendrapara. "From the day I set foot on the soil of Odisha, I have received immense love and affection from the people... from Dharamgarh to Rourkela to Mayurbhanj to Ganjam. I have tried to work very hard for the people," he recalled.

Speaking about his entry into the power corridor, Pandian noted that 12 years ago, he joined the chief minister’s office (CMO). "It was an honour to work for Naveen Patnaik. The experience and 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," the former IAS officer said.

Pandian mentioned that Patnaik’s expectations from him were to implement his vision for Odisha, which led to successes in health, education, poverty reduction, sports, investment, women empowerment, infrastructure, and temple and heritage projects.

"Working for the youth, school, and college children gave me great satisfaction," Pandian said, adding that his own childhood memories of studying in a government school helped him implement the chief minister’s vision for school transformation under 5T.

Pandian was the most important poll issue in Odisha with BJP questioning why no elected MPs and MLAs could not meet the Chief Minister without the Tamil bureaucrat’s nod, and why Pandian was allegedly taking all the decisions in the party and the government, all the time.

The charge against him was that he was active as a super-power within the government and the party. Since Patnaik decided to fight from two assembly constituencies, it has been widely speculated that the septuagenarian politician will vacate one of the seats later to facilitate entry of Pandian in the assembly. However, Patnaik lost the second seat (Kantabanji) to BJP.

More than six months ago, the bureaucrat left the Indian Administrative Service and joined BJD. His wife, also an IAS officer in Odisha government, has proceeded for six-months leave soon after the poll debacle.

Towards the fag end of the four-phase polling in Odisha, Patnaik gave public statements denying Pandian as his successor. But it was too little and came too late.

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Published 09 June 2024, 10:05 IST

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