Pandian is not my successor, says Odisha CM Naveen

The BJD chief also clarified that the future of his party and the question of his successor will be decided by the people.
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: Even as the BJP has made Odia Asmita (Odia Pride) the party's main campaign issue by targeting Tamil Nadu-born former bureaucrat-turned political leader VK Pandian for running the show in the state, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday made it clear that he (Pandian) is not his successor.

The chief minister told a news agency that his successor will be decided by the people of the state.

On being questioned if his close associate VK Pandian acts as a gatekeeper and whether he takes all decisions on his behalf, Patnaik said, "That is ridiculous and I have said it often before. This is an old allegation and it holds no weight."

The BJD leader also dismissed talks revolving around Pandian as his successor as exaggerated and unfortunate. "I cannot understand these exaggerations," he said.

On BJP making such accusations against his close confidant, Patnaik suggested that such allegations stem from the BJP's increasing desperation due to their declining popularity both in Odisha and nationally.

"I see it that they are getting more and more desperate, particularly as their popularity is waning in the country," Patnaik asserted.

Stating that there is no succession plan, Naveen said that in political parties, people decide these things. "I have said repeatedly that the successor will be decided by the people of the state. That is the natural result of these things," the Odisha CM said.

The chief minister said that leaders and workers of the party see how it is being run for the service of the people. The party will continue to do so in the future, he added.

Patnaik also said that he certainly hopes to be the Chief Minister for the next five years if he wins.

"As you can see, I've been in politics for the last 27 years. I was given... the position of president of the party 27 years ago and I've been running it, I think, well since then and will continue to do so," he said.

Naveen’s assertions came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly spoke about Naveen’s health condition and promised a probe into the matter when the BJP comes to power in the state.

In fact, the BJP's top leadership has gone ballistic about the Odisha CM's health in their campaigning in the state.

BJD leader and 5T chairman VK Pandian (L) with Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik during a poll rally.
I’m fit and fine, stop lying: Naveen Patnaik to BJP
BJD leader and 5T chairman VK Pandian (L) with Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik during a poll rally.
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