V.K. Pandian, the Tamil Nadu born former IAS officer and closest aide of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, formally joined the Biju Janata Dal on Monday.
He was inducted into the party in the presence of Mr. Patnaik and senior Ministers and party leaders at Naveen Niwas, residence of the Chief Minister.
Last month, Mr. Pandian had taken voluntary retirement from IAS on October 23, three days after his submission of application with Department of Personnel. retirement. The next day, October 24, he was appointed as Chairman of 5T through a government notification.
“I welcome Mr. Pandian to the BJD. He has been working really hard for several years for the people of our State and he will continue to do so as a member of the party,” Mr. Patnaik said.
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Mr. Pandian, whose joining of the BJD coincided with Kartika Purnima, said, “by the blessing of Lord Jagannath, guidance of CM and support of party leaders, I will serve the people of Odisha with dedication, humility and selflessness.”
Senior party leaders said they were excited about Mr. Pandian working for the State’s development by active involvement in direct politics.
‘His devotion to CM is absolute’
“I have earlier said Mr. Pandian is a disciple of Odisha CM. He joined Chief Minister’s Office on May 2011. But before that he has worked closely with Mr. Patnaik as Collector of Mayurbhanj and Ganjam. His devotion and dedication towards the Odisha CM are absolute,” said BJD organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das.
“Mr. Pandian played a key role in Mr. Patnaik’s realisation of Odisha’s CMs vision for the State. He took care that Mr. Patnaik’s image remained unblemished. His formal joining in the party is another commitment towards CM. I hope he would work taking along the grassroots worker of the BJD,” said Mr. Das.
The former 2000 batch IAS officer was a powerful bureaucrat who was known to have a final say in programme implementation pertaining to all departments in his capacity of 5T Secretary. All the major infrastructures including renovation of Shree Jagannath Temple surroundings, transforming SCB Medical College Hospital into AIIMS-plus institution and Bhubaneswar Metro Project are being implemented under his direct supervision.
Mr. Pandian is married to Sujata Karthikeyan, an Odisha-cadre IAS officer who is secretary of Mission Shakti. She belongs to Odisha.
While he had not officially joined the party before, it was widely known among both the ruling BJD and the Opposition that he played a crucial role in strategising the electoral success of the Chief Minister. Opposition leaders often challenged him to actively participate in party politics rather than remaining on the sidelines. With Mr. Pandian now becoming officially a part of the BJD, political dynamics in Odisha are expected to become more intriguing. Analysts believe that the mystery surrounding the succession of Mr. Patnaik will be significantly clarified.