Naveen Patnaik defends Pandian, says he is a person of integrity - Hindustan Times
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Naveen Patnaik defends Pandian, says he is a person of integrity

ByDebabrata Mohanty
Jun 08, 2024 05:16 PM IST

Naveen Patnaik also reiterated that VK Pandian is not his successor and said that the people of Odisha will decide on my successor

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president and former Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday defended his close aide VK Pandian amid rising clamour within the party over the latter’s role during the recently concluded Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and his close aide VK Pandian. (File)
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and his close aide VK Pandian. (File)

“It has come to my notice, there has been some criticism of Mr Pandian. This is unfortunate. He is a person of integrity and honesty and should be remembered for all that. He did excellent work as an officer in many fields in the last 10 years, helping the government with two cyclones and with the Covid-19 epidemic in the state. After this good work, he retired from the bureaucracy and joined the party and has contributed largely to that by doing excellent work,” said Patnaik on Saturday.

Patnaik also reiterated that Pandian is not his successor. “After Pandian joined the party, he has not held any post. He didn’t fight in the elections from any constituency. I repeat that the people of Odisha will decide on my successor,” he said, amid reports that his nephew Arun Patnaik arrived in Bhubaneswar on Friday evening and is now residing at Naveen Niwas.

Arun Patnaik, son of Patnaik’s elder brother Prem Patnaik, reached Bhubaneswar airport Friday evening along with Pandian. BJD’s organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das received them from the airport and the trio later went straightway to Naveen Niwas.

Naveen Patnaik said there have been some questions on his health. “I want to say here, quite categorically, that my health has always been fine and continues to be so.”

On the BJD’s defeat in the elections, Patnaik said that is in the people’s hands. “In a democracy, you know, you either win or you lose. So having been defeated after a long time, we must always take the verdict of the people gracefully,” he said. Patnaik said he has always said that the four and a half crore people of Odisha are a family, adding “I will continue to serve them in whichever way I can.”

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