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IAS officer Pandian, close aide of Odisha CM, quits months ahead of assembly elections

Bhubaneswar: IAS officer V K Pandian, the private secretary of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, took voluntary retirement from government service, officials said on Monday.

Sources in the ruling BJD said that he may join the party, and is likely to be given a significant role ahead of the assembly elections, which will be due early next year.

Pandian’s rose to prominence as the close aide of the chief minister has often landed him in controversies, with opposition parties alleging that he was misusing his position for political gains.

He was a 2000-batch IAS officer of the Odisha cadre.

In a letter to the state’s General Administration Department, the Centre’s Department of Personnel and Training said his voluntary retirement has been accepted “with the waiver of the notice period as recommended by the State Government.”

Pandian began his bureaucratic career as the sub-collector of Dharmagarh in Kalahandi district in 2002. He was appointed the collector of Mayurbhanj district in 2005, and then in 2007, he was made the collector of Ganjam. It was during his posting in Ganjam that he became close to the chief minister.

Patnaik is originally from the Ganjam district.

Pandian joined the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in 2011, and since then, he has been Patnaik’s private secretary.

After Patnaik became the chief minister for the fifth time in 2019, Pandian was given the additional responsibility of the ‘5T secretary’ to implement some transformational initiatives in government departments.

The opposition BJP and Congress had asked him to resign and “officially join the BJD,” after he went on a whirlwind tour across the state during which he held 190 meetings to hear public grievances.

Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka said that he would not be surprised if Pandian took charge as the chief minister of Odisha before the next elections.

“…such is the power structure in Odisha, no one has clue what’s happening but everyone knows who’s controlling. VRS approved in 3 days during holidays – Super Fast,” he said in a post on X.

Senior Congress MLA SS Saluja welcomed Pandian’s decision to take voluntary retirement.

‘We welcome his decision. He should have done it earlier. We do not know whether he will join politics or return back to his own state. However, if he joins the BJD, then it will be helpful for the opposition, the Congress is particular,” Saluja said.

BJP chief whip Mohan Majhi said Pandian has resigned to take forward his political activities.

“Now, he will be able to do politics openly instead of with the mask of a bureaucrat on. He will not be accepted by the people of Odisha,” he claimed.

(Published 23 October 2023, 19:45 IST)

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