Bhubaneswar: Amid speculation over former bureaucrat VK Pandian joining the BJD, a top leader of the ruling party in Odisha described him as a ‘true disciple’ of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Addressing a function in Jajpur district Saturday, BJD organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das, who is considered number two in the party, said Pandian has played a key role in turning Patnaik’s vision and thoughts into reality.
“What a son can’t do, a disciple can. Pandian…You are a true disciple of our chief minister. I thank you for what you have done for Odisha, Shri Jagannath Temple and Jajpur,” Das, the Jajpur MLA, said.
Patnaik, a bachelor, has been at the helm of the state administration since 2000.
Pandian became a part of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in 2011, and since then, he had been Patnaik’s private secretary. Immediately after his voluntary retirement from government service last month, Pandian, a 2000-batch IAS officer, was made the chairman of the ‘Nabin Odisha’ (New Odisha) programme and the ‘5T’ transformational initiatives.
‘5T’ refers to teamwork, technology, transparency, transformation and time limit on which the performance of government officials and projects are judged.
Pandian has also been accorded the status of a cabinet minister and will report directly to the chief minister.
“Das’s statement indicates that the BJD has already accepted Pandian and the party just waits for Patnaik’s final word to induct him. He will be given a major role to play in the next year’s assembly and Lok Sabha elections,” a senior party leader said.
Meanwhile, Pandian Saturday went to Puri where at least 10 devotees fainted as a heavy rush of visitors thronged inside the Jagannath Temple a day before.
He reviewed the situation there and asked officials to take steps for better crowd management at the shrine.