Himansu Shekhar Rout

After the debacle of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, the ‘all-powerful’ VK Pandian, who a few days ago used to make whirlwind tours in helicopters and was having the public meeting stage all for himself, is now nowhere to be seen near former CM Naveen Patnaik. After the defeat, he has not opened his mouth before the media.

His sudden vanishing act has raised questions about his envious rise in power politics led to BJD’s crashing downfall after five successive terms in power.
According to some leaders and critics, the BJD lost the trust of the people because of Pandian.  

Slow Rise To Power Politics

The 2000-batch IAS officer, Pandian was appointed as personal secretary of Naveen Patnaik in 2012. Gradually he managed to win the trust of Patnaik and became his confidante. He later indirectly meddled with BJD’s political affairs. 

It is alleged that he slowly weaved a coterie of some IAS and IPS officers in the secretariat, who started handling the CMO as well as the party organisation. 

Since 2019, Pandian became active in politics and even controlled the leaders creating a wide chasm between the CM and the leaders, who were close to him.

Leaders like Baijayant Panda, AU Singh Deo and Pradeep Panigrahy, who had close proximity to Naveen, gradually distanced themselves.   

Political activism

It was in 2023 when Pandian took voluntary retirement from the IAS job and started whirlwind tours across Odisha using helicopters. His power show was noticeable in the way he was holding meetings all over the state well ahead of the 2024 elections, by receiving complaints from people.

At several meetings, he was seen physically controlling the movements of Naveen Patnaik.

Senior Journalist Rabi Das said, "This caused a public perception that Naveen Patnaik was not in a condition to ably manage things. VK Pandian and a coterie of officers are taking advantage of such a situation. People thought that voting for Naveen meant voting for Pandian.”  

After he took the reins, non-Odia officers allegedly became powerful and exercised hegemony in the decision-making while elected representatives were sidelined.
This also caused growing resentment among the public. 

Moreover, crores of rupees were spent for Srimadir Parikrama Prakalp, but devotees are still deprived of smooth darshan in the row system. This also became a factor that fuelled public anger. 

Leaders like Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, who openly criticised the autocratic conduct of the self-styled IAS-turned-politician, were shown the doors of the party.   

Upset, Patnaik said, "People will not excuse the CM years later if he tries to escape by blaming Pandian. Who was allowing Pandian to make tours in helicopters? Who was allowing him to hold his (CM) hands? When the arrogance of IAS officers touched its pinnacle, they tried to control our writing and ticket distribution. People have given the punishment in their own style.”  

However, BJD leader Pratap Jena said, "There are many things which can be analysed. But Naveen Babu is the unparalleled leader and is in the hearts of people.”

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