'BJP won't cross single digit in Odisha Assembly': V K Pandian confident of Patnaik's return

Pandian called himself the heir and successor to CM Patnaik's values

56-Pandian V.K. Pandian | Sanjay Ahlawat

V K Pandian, a bureaucrat-turned-BJD leader and a close aide of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, expressed confidence in BJD returning to power in the state for a historic sixth time under Naveen Patnaik.

Pandian also took a swipe at the BJP, stating if the party declared its Chief Minister candidate in the state, it wouldn't cross single digits. 

"I will tell you two scenarios…BJD, under Naveen Babu, is going to sweep the assembly elections and we will get more seats in Lok Sabha elections as well. In case the BJP comes out with a CM face…the victory will be much larger. The BJP will not cross single digit (in number of MLAs)," he said.

Odisha will vote in the Lok Sabha elections and assembly polls simultaneously in four phases, starting on May 13. There are 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state and a 147-member assembly. Naveen Patnaik is seeking to steer the party for a sixth straight term in office in the assembly polls.

Pandian's dig at the BJP comes after both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah targetted Pandian during the election rallies, calling him an "outsider". 

'Heir and successor to Patnaik's values'

On whether he would be Patnaik's political successor, Pandian said he gets love and affection from people because of his present identity.

“No, I will be the heir, the successor to all his values as I have always stood. His integrity, his commitment, his hard work, his absolute thinking about empowering the people of Odisha – that is what I would succeed him as. My identity in Odisha is ‘he works for Naveen Patnaik and he delivers.’ That is the identity which I cherish. The love and affection that I get from people is because of that identity,” he said.

On BJP's 'outsider' jab

In a no-holds-barred attack on the BJP, Pandian also said it is the ruling party at the Centre that has done nothing for the 'Odiya Asmita' or for promoting the language, art and culture of the state despite repeated pleas by the chief minister.

The 49-year-old former IAS officer who last served as private secretary to the chief minister before quitting the service to join the party last year, said, "I call Naveen Babu my guru and I'm his shishya (disciple)."

Pandian said he is just a foot soldier and not even an office bearer of Biju Janata Dal (BJD), but he is a big fan of Patnaik. "I do everything under the sun to see that Naveen Babu comes out with flying colours and continues to serve the people of Odisha in the best possible way and with all the big dreams he has for Odisha," Pandian said.

'Congress irrelevant'

Pandian said Congress used to be the main challenger of BJD as an opposition party more than a decade back. "They (Congress) are in a very sad state of affairs and in many places, BJP is locally fixing with them. There are two Parliamentary constituencies where they are having a fixing – Sambalpur and Bhubaneswar…I am putting it on record, I am saying with all conviction," Pandian said.

On Rahul Gandhi’s allegations of BJD and BJP working together, Pandian said that BJD maintains a level of decency in political discourse and it does not mean that it is collaborating with the party in opposition. "He(Rahul Gandhi) specifically used the word ‘marriage’. He is a bachelor, he should not be giving advice on marriage and relationships. In political discourse, the Chief Minister’s idea is, his commitment or value system is that one should not cross that decency, that is the value system he has…That doesn’t mean that we are collaborating with the opposite party against whom we are fighting the elections," Pandian said.


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