VK Pandian not my successor, such talks are exaggerations: Naveen Patnaik

The chief minister said he will remain in seat for next 5 years if BJD wins the polls
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen PatnaikPhoto | Express

BHUBANESWAR: With the BJP going hammer and tongs against Tamil Nadu-born bureaucrat-turned-politician VK Pandian, accusing him of wielding complete control over Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and running the show in the state, the latter on Thursday made it clear that he (Pandian) was not his successor and the Opposition was resorting to “nonsensical exaggerations”.

In his first interview of this election, Naveen told news agency ANI, “He is not my successor...he is not even standing for the elections. I have said repeatedly that my successor will be decided by the people of the state. That is the natural result of these things,” he stated.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
I’m fit and fine, stop lying: Naveen Patnaik to BJP

The chief minister also strongly denied that Pandian acts as a gatekeeper and takes all decisions on his behalf. “That is ridiculous and I have said it often before. This is an old allegation and it holds no weight. I cannot understand these exaggerations,” he said.

Stating that he has all power as the chief minister, Naveen said he chairs all the cabinet meetings. “I find all of this quite nonsensical,” he remarked.

Asserting that the BJD will achieve a handsome victory in the Assembly election and have a good majority in Parliament polls, the chief minister said the regional outfit will form a solid government. Naveen also said that he will remain the chief minister for the next five years if the BJD wins this election. “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.

Responding to the personal attacks launched by the BJP, which has raised questions on his health, the chief minister said, “Such allegations come from the saffron party’s increasing desperation due to its declining popularity both in Odisha and at the national level.”

Referring to a viral video showing his hand shaking, the chief minister said it was not a medical condition at all and the whole thing has been exaggerated for no reason. The chief minister’s clarification came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly spoke about his health condition and promised a probe into the matter when the BJP comes to power in the state. 

The chief minister, however, did not rule out issue-based support to the Centre if the BJP comes to power at the Centre despite the acrimonious campaign launched by the party to wrest power from the BJD. “I have never shown acrimony to anyone in public life. When support is required we will judge appropriate to our position,” he said.

Asked whether the doors on the issue-based politics has been shut now, the chief minister said, “Let us see what will be the position in future. That will be judged from future events,” he said.

Regarding promises made by BJD ahead of the elections, Naveen said, “We have done a great deal for the people of the state and want to continue doing much more.”

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