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Pandian is not my natural successor: Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik responds to opposition campaign

He asserted that his health conditions are fine to allow him to continue for another five year term as the chief minister.
alyan Ray
Last Updated : 30 May 2024, 15:52 IST
Last Updated : 30 May 2024, 15:52 IST

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Bhubaneswar: Ahead of the last phase of polling in Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has clarified that his close confidant V K Pandian will not be his natural successor in the government and the party, besides asserting that his health conditions are fine to allow him to continue for another five year term as the Chief Minister.

“The successor will be decided by the people of the state. That is the natural result of these things....He (Pandian) is not my successor. And I see all of these (opposition claim of Pandian replacing Patnaik) as exaggeration and falsehood,” the septuagenarian Chief Minister said in an interview to ANI.

Naveen Babu’s health and his relationship with the Tamil-origin bureaucrat are the two most talked about subjects in the twin election of the coastal state.

Speculations about the 77 year old leader’s health increased hugely in the last few days after a video surfaced in the social media showing Patnaik giving a public speech but his hands were trembling. Pandian was seen moving the CM’s hands away from the cameras.

A day later Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a rally that once the BJP government would come to power, it would set up an enquiry committee to investigate how Patnaik’s health had deteriorated.

The Chief Minister has now clarified that trembling hands are no medical issues and the opposition campaign on his health is exaggerated.

"I face no health issues at all, I am in excellent health. I have been campaigning for the last month in a very hot season and I am fine." Patnaik says. On shaking hands, he adds, "It's no medical condition at all. It has been exaggerated for no reason by a BJP Chief Minister.”

The reference was to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who launched a caustic attack on his Odisha counterpart.

Stressing that he was in fine health as he campaigned for a month amidst heat, he said had the PM was so concerned about his health, he could have just picked up the telephone and asked, rather than speaking about it in a public rally to garner votes.

On allegations that "Pandian takes decisions on behalf of CM Patnaik", he says, "...This is ridiculous and I have said it often before, this is an old allegation and it holds no weight.

The talks of Pandian being his successor became louder in recent weeks after Patnaik decided to contest in two assembly seats—Hinjli and Kantabanji—amidst speculations that he may vacate one for his trusted lieutenant, who quit the bureaucracy and joined BJD a few months ago.

Asked about "putting Pandian above other BJD leaders", the Chief Minister says "I find all of this quite nonsensical..."

The last phase of election in Odisha will take place on June 1 when six Lok Sabha seats—Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur—will go for the polls along with 42 assembly seats.

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Published 30 May 2024, 15:52 IST

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