V.K. Pandian: The man who saved the people of Odisha from the devastation of two deadly cyclones, himself got devastated in the first political storm

Ananya Shroff
5 Min Read

New Delhi : VK Pandian, a confidant of former Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, on Sunday announced his retirement from active politics. Pandian's announcement comes at a time when the Biju Janata Dal suffered a major setback in the Odisha Assembly and Lok Sabha elections a few days ago. This development comes after Patnaik's statement in which he claimed that Pandian is not his 'successor'. The people of the state will decide about this. Pandian announced his decision to quit active politics through a video message.

Pandian remained in the news during the elections

Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were held simultaneously in Odisha. In these elections, Pandian was the main campaigner as well as the chief strategist of the party. This was the reason that during the elections, along with the CM, VK Pandian was also the target of the opposition. He was called the successor of Naveen Patnaik. The opposition even alleged that he had held Naveen Babu hostage. He was also accused of being a super CM. Earlier, as an IAS officer, Pandian did pioneering work in many areas. He was also praised a lot for this. In the year 2002, he got his first posting as a sub-collector in Dharmagarh in Kalahandi district. In the year 2005, he got a posting as DM in Mayurbhanj. While being the collector in Mayurbhanj district, Pandian was awarded the Helen Keller Award for his active role in benefiting the disabled. During that time, his work among the disabled and HIV patients was noticed at the national level. He successfully implemented the pilot project to transfer MNREGA wages directly to the accounts of the beneficiaries. This was the forerunner of the current Direct Benefit Transfer scheme. Since then, Pandian has been in the good books of the CM. During his posting in Ganjam, Patnaik called him to the state capital to work as his personal secretary. Gradually, he became Naveen Babu's confidant. From his posting in the CM House in 2011 to taking voluntary retirement in 2023, he was posted in the CM office for 12 years. During his tenure, he did remarkable work for the relief, rescue and rehabilitation of the people after cyclones Phailin, Cyclone Titli and Cyclone Fani hit Odisha. At the same time, these elections were his first test after retirement from the civil service last year, in which he failed. In this election, the BJD did not get a single seat out of 20 Lok Sabha seats. At the same time, out of 147 assembly seats, it had to be reduced to just 51 seats.

what did you say in the video message

My intention of joining politics was only to support Naveen Babu (Naveen Patnaik). Now I have taken a conscious decision to distance myself from active politics. I apologise to all those I have hurt in this journey. I am sorry that this campaign against me led to the defeat of the Biju Janata Dal. I apologise to the entire Biju family. I express my heartfelt gratitude to the lakhs of members of the Biju family with whom I have been associated. I will always keep Odisha in my heart and remember my guru Naveen Babu. I will pray to Lord Jagannath for his welfare and prosperity.

Who is VK Pandian?

Pandian, a 2000 batch IAS officer, has worked as Patnaik's private secretary for over two decades. Pandian's role changed since he came to power for the fifth time in 2019. He was appointed chairman of 5T (Transformational Initiatives). VK Pandian's appointment gave him the status of a cabinet minister. He was allowed to work directly under Naveen Patnaik. The 50-year-old Pandian had previously led the Odisha government's 5T governance charter as secretary, which focuses on transparency, technology, teamwork and time for transformation. VK Pandian's portfolio was not limited to bureaucratic governance. He played a notable role in executing major projects like the Sri Jagannath Heritage Corridor. This upcoming project aims to build a 75-meter-wide corridor around the ancient Sri Jagannath temple. His contributions led to the launch of 'Mo Sarkar', a flagship program of the Odisha government aimed at increasing citizen participation in governance.

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