The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) officially welcomed V Karthikeyan Pandian, a former IAS officer and close aide to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, into its ranks on Monday. Pandian formally joined the regional party at Patnaik’s home, Naveen Niwas, in front of state dignitaries, legislators, top BJD leaders, and the chief minister.
“I embrace Pandian into the BJD fold, anticipating his devoted service to both the party and the people of Odisha,” the Chief Minister said in a warm welcome.
In a separate statement, Patnaik expressed confidence in Pandian’s sustained commitment to the state and acknowledged his unflinching effort throughout the years. “He has earned the respect of the people, and I extend my best wishes to him,” said Patnaik.
Pandian responded by saying, “With the blessings of Lord Jagannath and under Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s sagacious guidance, I pledge my sincere and dedicated service to the BJD and the people of Odisha.”
Prior to entering the political sphere, Pandian made a dawn pilgrimage to Puri in order to obtain the blessing of Lord Jagannath.
Reporters were informed by BJD’s Puri MP Pinaki Mishra about Pandian’s symbolic action of caressing the CM’s feet in order to ask for his blessings. Patnaik was hopeful that Pandian will repeat his achievements for the party’s leadership.
Mishra emphasized Pandian’s extensive political and administrative background, highlighting its importance as a useful resource for the party.
The 49-year-old Pandian, an IAS officer from the 2000 batch, chose to voluntarily retire on October 23 of this year after facing criticism and infractions of the service rules. He then became chairman of the state’s flagship 5T (transformational initiative) and Navin (new) Odisha plan, reporting directly to the chief minister as a cabinet minister.
Sujata Kartikeyan Rout, Pandian’s wife, is from Odisha, whereas Pandian is from Tamil Nadu. His wife’s job in the eastern state of Odisha caused him to go there after starting out in the Punjab cadre.
Before embarking on his political career, Pandian visited all 30 of the state’s districts, listening to complaints from the public and carefully examining different programs aimed at development.
Pranab Prakash Das, the organizational secretary of the BJD, declared, “Pandian is a devoted follower of the CM who is committed to his cause. Regarding his genuineness toward Patnaik and the Odisha people, there is no question.”
“Pandian’s vast experience will fortify the BJD, fostering the party’s future strength under his guidance,” senior party figure Sanjay Das Burma continued.
The BJP’s Odisha branch responded to this development by highlighting Pandian’s non-Odia heritage entering the state’s political sphere.
Manmohan Samal, the state president, said, “It is noted that he is included in the BJD. He used to function in the background. His affiliation with the BJD, though, is not anticipated to have a big effect on the BJP.”
“The late Biju Patnaik, the inspiration behind the BJD’s name, would likely be disheartened to witness a non-Odia engaging in party politics,” said National Vice-President Baijayant Panda.
Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja made the thoughtful observation that “his transition to the BJD is a positive step, considering his previous involvement confined to office politics.”
In 2002, Pandian started his career in bureaucracy as the Kalahandi district’s Dharmagarh sub-collector. He then took on the position of collector for the districts of Mayurbhanj in 2005 and Ganjam in 2007.
Pandian developed a good relationship with the CM while he was in Ganjam and has been his private secretary since 2011. In 2019, Patnaik gave him the additional responsibility of ‘5T secretary’ to promote transformative ideas across government ministries, acknowledging his abilities.