Naveen comes to Pandian's defence, calls him a person of integrity and honesty

The BJD chief said Pandian did an excellent job as an administrator and helped during the two major cyclones and Covid pandemic.
BJD leader and 5T chairman VK Pandian (L) with Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik during a poll rally.
BJD leader and 5T chairman VK Pandian (L) with Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik during a poll rally.File Photo | Express

BHUBANESWAR: Outgoing Chief Minister and BJD boss Naveen Patnaik on Saturday threw his weight behind VK Pandian, his close aide, who has been receiving massive flak for the party’s shocking loss in the just-concluded elections.

Naveen said the criticism of Pandian for the party’s electoral debacle is unfair. He praised the bureaucrat-turned-politician for his work in the administration as well as in the BJD.

"It has come to my notice about criticism of Pandian. This is unfortunate," said Naveen here at his residence.

Pandian, who constantly figured in the BJD and government affairs in the past, has stayed away from media ever since the election results were declared. He was not seen during the meetings Naveen has been conducting to review the poll debacle. Pandian was last spotted travelling to New Delhi.

BJD leader and 5T chairman VK Pandian (L) with Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik during a poll rally.
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The BJD chief said Pandian did an excellent job as an administrator and helped during the two major cyclones and Covid pandemic in the state. Naveen credited his beleaguered aide for his work in education, health, sports and temple revamp projects of the BJD government.

"After his good work, he retired from bureaucracy and joined my party and contributed with excellent work. He had not held any post. He did not fight in these elections from any constituencies. He is a person of integrity and honesty and should be remembered for that," said Naveen as the 49-year-old Pandian came under increasing public scrutiny for the BJD’s defeat.

Naveen was graceful in his acceptance of the poll outcome saying that is in the people's hands.

BJD leader and 5T chairman VK Pandian (L) with Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik during a poll rally.
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"In a democracy, you have to either win or lose. So having been defeated after a long time, we must take the verdict of people gracefully. The 4.5 crore people of Odisha are my family and I will continue to serve them in whichever way I can," he said.

He expressed his gratitude to the people of the state for electing him for five consecutive terms and giving him a chance to serve.

"We have tried to do an excellent job and have much to be proud of in our government and in our party," he said.

Naveen reiterated that Pandian was not his political successor and said that people of the state will decide who it will be. He also pointed out that he continues to keep good health and took part in intense campaigning during the elections.

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