‘VK Pandian not my successor’: Naveen Patnaik says people to choose his ‘heir' | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

‘VK Pandian not my successor’: Naveen Patnaik says people to choose his ‘heir'

By, New Delhi
Jun 08, 2024 05:20 PM IST

The outgoing Odisha CM, however, said that the criticism of his close aide, a bureaucrat-turned-BJD member, was ‘unfortunate.’

In his first reaction after losing the Odisha assembly election, Naveen Patnaik, the outgoing chief minister who missed out on what would have been his sixth consecutive term in office, on Saturday defended his close aide VK Pandian, saying that the bureaucrat-turned-politician was not his successor.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik along with VK Pandian (File Photo/ANI)
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik along with VK Pandian (File Photo/ANI)

Also Read: Pandian, pride and BJP’s path to power in Odisha

“The people of Odisha would decide who my successor would be,” Patnaik told news agency PTI.

However, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president further stated that the criticism of Pandian, now a party member, was “unfortunate.”

“He (Pandian) joined the party and has not held any post. He did not contest the elections. As an officer, he did an excellent job in different fields in the last 10 years, be it during two cyclones or the Covid-19 pandemic. Then, he retired from the bureaucracy, and joined the BJD and contributed largely by doing an excellent work. He is a person of integrity and honesty and should be remembered for that,” the veteran leader said.

Also Read: VK Pandian’s wife goes on 6-month ‘child care’ leave

Patnaik's statement comes after a section of BJD leaders and workers expressed resentment against the ex-bureaucrat, who is from Tamil Nadu. During campaigning, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had repeatedly claimed that the-then chief minister was trying to “impose” a non-Odia on the people of the state.

The BJP won 78 seats in the 147-member Odisha assembly, while the BJD, which had been in power since 2000, won 51 seats. The Congress, which came third, bagged just 14 seats. Patnaik, who contested on two seats, was victorious from one (Hinjili) but lost the other (Kantabanji).

Also Read: Meet Laxman Bag, Odisha’s giant killer who defeated Naveen Patnaik

In the Lok Sabha elections, meanwhile, the BJP won 20 of the coastal state's 21 parliamentary constituencies, and the BJD one.

Odisha was among four states that held simultaneous polls, the others being Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim.

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