Vikash Sharma

Ahead of the 2024 elections, retired Odisha chief secretary, Bijay Patnaik on Friday joined the Congress at an event in the party’s headquarters in New Delhi.

Once considered to be one of the most powerful bureaucrats in Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's government, Patnaik joined the Congress camp in presence of the party's Odisha in-charge A Chellakumar and the party’s state unit president Sarat Pattanayak.

“Today, I have joined the Congress and thank Rahul Gandhi and others who encouraged me to join politics. I will continue to work ahead in politics with whatever experience I have acquired in my service career of over 40 years,” said Patnaik.

Patnaik also took a jibe at the Odisha government under the BJD rule by claiming that there is misgovernance, corruption, and a rise in violence in the state now.

“The administration has failed to reach out to the common people, who are unable to decide who to approach as nobody knows from who to seek help be it MLAs or Ministers. This needs to change and I will certainly work in this regard. There is a need to repose faith in democracy again in Odisha,” said Patnaik.

On his decision of joining the Congress, Patnaik said, “Till I was with the government, I was not inclined towards any party. But when I started my service, it was Congress that was in power. But the recent Bharat Jodo Yatra has inspired a lot of people including me."

On Fighting Elections

To a question on contesting polls as MLA or MP candidate, Bijay Patnaik said, “I have not made any demand and left the decision on the AICC.”

Aim To Create Vibrant Congress in Odisha

"We will certainly work to create a vibrant Congress in Odisha. At present, people do not know who to approach to get their grievances redressed. We want to ensure that faith is restored in democracy," said Patnaik.

BJD’s Ideology Has Changed

The ruling party is now concerned about garnering votes only and they have deviated from the ideology to serve people and do something for Odisha, said Patnaik.

Congress party's Odisha in-charge, A Chellakumar said, “We are happy to receive the senior most retired bureaucrat. People are aware of his integrity and he is one of the highly respectable personalities and has served in a lot of positions. Patnaik joining Congress will certainly strengthen the party. He will be an advisor, and guide for leaders and workers. Those who want to see a vibrant Odisha will certainly join Congress.”

(Reported by Sibanand Rout)