Berhampur: After formally joining the ruling BJD Monday, former bureaucrat VK Pandian visited Maa Tara Tarini temple, one of the famous Shakti shrines in Ganjam district, and performed a puja.
The 49-year-old new generation leader, chairman of 5T (transformational initiative) and Nabin (new) Odisha programme, also visited Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri before formally joining the BJD.
Hundreds of party functionaries and supporters, Aska MP Pramila Bisoi, Berhampur mayor Sanghamitra Dalei, and a number of MLAs thronged the Tara Tarini temple to welcome Pandian into the party fold. He was accompanied by the party’s organising secretary Pranab Prakash Das and some other legislators.
Maa Tara Tarini, the twin goddess, are the presiding deities of Ganjam. Pandian is attached to the temple since his days as the district collector of Ganjam from 2007 to 2011. He joined as the private secretary to the chief minister in 2011 and worked for 12 years till he retired from government service October 23, 2023.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also visits the Shakti shrine every time before filing nominations from Hinjili assembly constituency.
“He is one of the devotees of Maa Tara Tarini and visits the place very frequently. Like other days, he also visited today and spent around 15 minutes to perform rituals and seeking blessings of the Goddess,” said a priest of the temple.
Maa Tara Tarini temple development was the state government’s initiative for transformation of pilgrims’ amenities in temples under Pandian’s supervision. The transformation work that started in the shrine has been taken up across the state in several other temples, said R Ch Chaupatnaik, former MLA (Berhampur), and party’s Ganjam district president.
The renovation of the 500-year-old temple was done with an investment of around Rs 117 crore. An attractive main gate (singhadwara), a yagna mandap, a bathing hall, a diya house, a viewpoint, an administrative building, mundan (tonsuring) hall, which are included in the renovation scheme, was inaugurated by the chief minister in May last year.
During his visit to Puri earlier in the day, Pandian directed authorities to complete the work of the Heritage Corridor Project by December 15. He also advised the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and the Puri district administration to have a proper mechanism for crowd management at the 12th-century shrine.