Pandian Rules Out Contesting 2024 Elections, Says People Of Odisha Will Decide Naveen Patnaik’s Successor

Bhubaneswar: Firmly ruling out contesting elections in 2024, bureaucrat-turned-politician V K Pandian said that the immediate task that he has in hand is to to see Naveen Patnaik as the Chief Minister for the sixth consecutive term and take Odisha to “the pinnacle of development.”

“I am not contesting the 2024 elections. Like Arjun, my focus is very clear. I have joined politics to make the CM win for the sixth time. I am going to assist him. I want him to create a record as the longest serving CM of the country,” Pandian, a close aide of Naveen, told ANI in an exclusive interview.

Stating that ‘perhaps’ a divine force was driving his fate, the former IAS officer stressed that he has no ambitions and is only helping the Chief Minister. “The party will be back with a thumping majority and win more seats than the previous elections as always,” he added while highlighting the spiritual governance of the CM, where welfare of the people is paramount.

Pandian, who joined the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) after taking voluntary retirement from service in November 2023, said that the CM has groomed him to serve the people in the best possible manner.

To a question on Naveen’s heir apparent, the bureaucrat-turned-politician said that people of Odisha will decide on the BJD president’s successor. “As CM has always said that people of Odisha will decide who will succeed him and what kind of leadership they want,” he said.

Describing the BJD as his family, Pandian said he received enormous love and affection from the party. “Actually, I see BJD as a family. Even among brothers and sisters, there will be some jealousy, some anger. That’s how I look at it. But I get enormous love and affection from the party and the people. It’s unbelievable sometimes. It is the love of the people finally that matters. And the party respects their wish,” he added.

On Naveen’s health, Pandian said the CM is in pink of health and the best that he should be at the age of 78.

Progress of State under Naveen Rule

Describing Naveen as warm, down to earth and humble, Pandian said the CM had supported his initiative in paddy procurement in Kalahandi, which used to be a food-deficit district when he was the sub-collector. “The face of Kalahandi changed during the CM’s tenure as he brought in irrigation in a large scale and transformed the grey areas. From a food deficit state in 2000, in 7-8 years, Odisha became self-sufficient and in 11 years, food surplus. And now we are the third largest contributor to country’s food security,” he said.

“The CM set global benchmarks in disaster management, tribal empowerment, and education. And instead of anti-incumbency, it was pro-incumbency which brought the successive elections wins for him. The BJD’s vote share is growing with every election and in 2024 also it is likely to increase further,” the Nabin Odisha chairman asserted.

Relationship between Modi & Naveen

Pandian said that the strong bond between CM Naveen Patnaik and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to their shared dedication to federalism and respect for people’s mandate.

To drive his point home, he referred to the the proposed National Counterterrosim Act (NCTC) which the UPA government was planning to table. “All of it were encroaching the state’s jurisdiction with more powers being given to RPF. Mr. Modi, Madam Jayalalithaa, and Naveen Patnaik decided to walk out of the National Development Council meeting. They had that rapport from that time onwards, working for a cause, working for federal principles, keeping the larger interests of country in focus.”

Defending the cordial relationship between BJD and BJP, which he said was in the interest of Odisha, he added: “When BJD is not convinced about something, we have not gone ahead with BJP. When something is against the interest of the country or we not convinced about something, the BJD has always opposed it. BJD did not support the Farmers Bill and the NRC and our CM made it clear that it’s not good for the country,” he said.

The CM indulges in politics only during elections, at other times he only works for the welfare of the state, Pandian added.

Biju Patnaik was a phenomenon

He set up UNESCO Kalinga Prize For Popularilsation of Science as an alternative for Noble Prize with profits generated from his business to create scientific temper among people in India.

“When he went to rescue the Indonesia freedom fighters, his co-pilot was his wife Gyan Patnaik and Naveen Babu was only one year old. He took the mother off with him to rescue the Indonesian freedom fighters from Java in his Dakota flight only 10 days after a Kalinga Airlines was shot down by Dutch. He was the brainchild behind the Indo-Tibetan Border Security Force and when he was sent to the US during Indo-China War, he also asked for nuclear assistance and not just arms creating furore in Parliament,” Pandian said.

He further said that when DRDO identified the Wheeler Island in Balasore for its unit, everyone opposed it. “Biju babu agreed to give the land free of cost and extracted a promise from Abdul Kalam to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which will have the capability to hit the heart of China,” he added.

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