After months of speculation, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's close aide and former IAS officer V Karthikeyan Pandian formally joined the ruling Biju Janata Dal on Monday. He joined the ruling party of Odisha in the presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, ministers, lawmakers and senior BJD leaders.
Pandian, who sought voluntary retirement from government service on October 23 this year, is speculated to succeed Patnaik.
Top BJD leaders welcomed Pandian into the party. Senior leader Amar Patnaik said Pandian's move will strengthen the party. "This is not only a question of strengthening the party but also the state. He is committed to the development of the state like the Chief Minister," Patnaik added.
He said Pandian's arrival is not just aimed at the 2024 elections but a "long-term vision of the Chief Minister." "The people of Odisha want the CM to continue to fulfil that vision and Pandian will be an able ally in it."
Pandian, a 2000-batch IAS officer, sparked several controversies during his stint as the private secretary to Naveen Patnaik. In March, Pandian undertook a tour across the state to engage directly with the people, covering 147 constituencies, addressing 200 meetings and engaging with 25 lakh people.
This had irked the opposition parties, including Congress, which accused the opposition parties of violating the service rule by carrying out what was clearly “political work”.
Pandian took voluntary retirement from government service on October 23 this year. Pandian was later appointed as the chairman of the state's flagship 5T (transformational initiative) and Navin (new) Odisha scheme in the rank of cabinet minister to work directly under the chief minister.