Pandian retires from active politics

Bhubaneswar: Bureaucrat-turned politician and caretaker chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s Man Friday VK Pandian on Sunday announced his retirement from active politics. In  a self-made video Pandian, who has been squarely  blamed for Biju Janata Dal’s defeat in the elections, said that his only intent  in joining politics was to help 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 while giving details of the work he has done for the state under Patnaik’s guidance.

“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 Shri Naveen Patnaik,” he said.

Asserting that he came to politics only to help Patnaik and had no desire for a specific political post or power he said,  “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.”

“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.

Sever BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah targeted VK Pandian, who hails from Tamil Nadu, during their campaign in the state. Making it clear that he was a man of integrity Pandian said “ 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.”

The announcement by Pandian is likely to be received by most BJD leaders with a sense of relief as they had held him solely responsible for the party’s electoral debacle.