Proving all the speculations right, 5T Chairman and former bureaucrat V Karthikeyan Pandian formally joined Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Monday. He joined the conch party at Naveen Niwas in the presence of party supremo Naveen Patnaik and other party leaders.
The development came after he took VRS from his service on October 23. He was made the Chairman of 5T (Transformational Initiatives) and ‘Nabin Odisha’ in the rank of Cabinet Minister a day after his voluntary resignation from the Indian civil services.
Also Read | Day After Voluntary Retirement, VK Pandian Appointed Odisha 5T Chairman in Cabinet Minister Rank
"I welcome Sri Pandian to the Biju Janata Dal. As all of you know, he has been working very hard for several years for the people of our state and he will even continue to do so as a member of the party. I wish him all the best," said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
After joining the BJD, Pandian said that with the blessings of Mahaprabhu, guidance of CM Naveen, and support of the party leaders, he will dedicatedly and selflessly work for the people of Odisha.
Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik's close aide VK Pandian joins BJD
Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi had earlier termed VK Pandian’s appointment as the 5T Chairman as a ‘soft landing’ in politics while alleging that CM Naveen Patnaik has no control over governance in Odisha.
Earlier speculations were rife that Pandian would join Biju Janata Dal and might be entrusted with a bigger role ahead of the 2024 Assembly Polls.
VK Pandian is a 2000 batch IAS officer, who started his career as Dharmagarh sub-collector and later served as Collector of different districts. He joined the CMO in 2011 and remained there for the last 12 years. He was the private secretary to the Chief Minister of Odisha. He was made the 5T secretary in 2019.
He was criticised heavily by the Opposition alleging participation in politics while he was in the civil service as the 5T Secretary and Private Secretary to the Chief Minister. He came under fire, earlier this year after he made whirlwind tours to several districts of the State and addressed people in huge public meetings.
Also Read | Odisha 5T Secretary VK Pandian takes voluntary retirement; what's next, super CM or advisor?
Reaction Of Political Leaders
Meanwhile, Puri MP Pinaki Misra said, “Pandian joined the BJD with the blessings of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. He will work for the state and the people of Odisha and I hope he achieves the same success in the BJD as working in the administration.”
“Pandian's expertise and vast experience in administration and politics will prove a big asset to the BJD. It will help the party immensely. All the BJD leaders are happy with the decision,” Misra added.
“The vast experience of Pandian will strengthen the BJD. We hope under his guidance, the party will become more powerful in the future,” said BJD leader Sanjay Das Burma.
On VK Pandian joining the BJD, party leader Amar Patnaik said, "This is not only a question of strengthening the party but it will also strengthen the state as a whole. Pandian is committed to the development of the state like the CM.
His joining the party will further hasten this process... This is not merely looking at 2024, this is a long-term vision of the CM. The people of Odisha want the CM to continue to fulfill that vision and Mr. Pandian will be an able ally in this."