V K Pandian VRS: Cong Attacks, BJP Guarded, BJD Mum

Bhubaneswar: With the 2024 elections barely six months away, the resignation of V K Pandian, who was the all-powerful 5T Secretary to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, from IAS has evoked mixed reactions in different quarters with the Opposition Congress not missing the opportunity to take digs at him.


The BJP, however,  has been very guarded in its reactions while the ruling BJD has thus far kept mum over the much-discussed development. Pandian, too, is yet to make a statement.

“The BJD and the BJP are together and hence Pandian’s VRS application was approved so quickly. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik appointing him in Cabinet rank immediately proves everything was planned by both the parties in a manner which harms Odisha’s interests,” Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Sarat Pattnayak told a press
conference on Tuesday, shortly after the state government notified Pandian’s appointment as Chairman of 5T and Nabin Odisha.

“The people of Odisha will no longer tolerate this government which is functioning on an outsourcing model. Pandian taking VRS is yet another conspiracy to consolidate this model,” he alleged.

Also Read: V K Pandian Continues As ‘5T’ With Cabinet Rank

Stating that the BJP was against governance in Odisha being hijacked by a bureaucrat, state party president Manmohan Samal said it is an open field now and it will be a fight of ideology and for the interest of the state. “We were against the strange arrangement in governance, politics and not any single person. We were against Pandian indulging in politics while still in service. Since he has now taken VSR, we have no objection to him taking the political plunge,” he noted.

Veteran Congress leader Narasingha Mishra said he was not surprised over Pandian taking VRS. “He was successful as an IAS officer but am I not sure how successful he will be if he enters politics,” he remarked, amid speculation that the former bureaucrat will join politics and play a part in the 2024 elections.

The Balangir MLA said the BJD government would have been in a better position if Pandian had taken this decision earlier. “The government and the party faced criticism because of whirlwind tours of Pandian. It had put the government on the backfoot. Now, the Opposition cannot raise an objection to the government being run by an officer,” he pointed out.

Narasingha, however, said the haste with which his VSR was approved clearly hints at a tacit understanding between the BJP and the BJD. “There is no illegality in his appointment as Chairman of 5T and ‘Nabin Odisha’ in the rank of cabinet minister. In anticipation of the cabinet, CM Naveen Patnaik has the constitutional right to take the decision,” he added.

Earlier this year, the Opposition accused Pandian of violating the All India Services (Conduct) Rules and advised him to resign and “officially join the BJD” after his whirlwind tours across the state during which he held 190 meetings to “hear public grievances” on the direction of the CM.

“With the retirement of Shri V K Pandian, an inglorious chapter of Odisha cadre IAS has come to an end,” wrote OPCC
Campaign Committee Chairman and Former Chief Secretary Bijay Patnaik on X.

Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka said he would not be surprised if Pandian took charge as the Chief Minister of Odisha before the next elections. “…such is the power structure in Odisha, no one has clue what’s happening but everyone knows who’s controlling. VRS approved in 3 days during holidays – Super Fast,” Ulaka posted on X.

Taking a swipe at Pandian, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh posted, “He has been a fine civil servant and helped Naveen Patnaik enormously. But it is good that a de facto situation will finally become a de jure one, and Pandian will become a political figure in his own right. It was a strange situation in Odisha for over a decade and a half with the CM being like an absentee landlord and his chief aide functioning as the state’s CEO.”

Congress MLA from Jatni Suresh Routray claimed that a deal was struck on Pandian’s VRS when Home Minister Amit Shah was in Bhubaneswar earlier this year.

Another Congress leader and former bureaucrat, Panchanan Dash, also wrote on X: “Is a VRS application of any national interest that it was processed and approved on holidays (the application was sent on 20th Friday, 21 and 22nd were Saturday and Sunday and 23 holiday) ignoring the notice period. The BJP and BJD are two sides of the same coin. How comfortable the senior IAS/IPS will feel in the present scenario? My dear friends Change the government periodically to get rid of junk Government. How could a bureaucrat amass so much strength? This is due to long rule of one party. So to clean politics change government. (sic)”

Also Read: Odisha 5T Secretary V K Pandian Takes Voluntary Retirement; What Will Be His Next Move

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