Naveen Defends Pandian

Bhubaneswar: Biju Janata Dal supremo and outgoing Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday defended his close aide VK Pandian facing criticism for his party’s poll debacle. Terming the criticism as “unfortunate”, Patnaik asserted that the bureaucrat-turned-politician did an “excellent job”.

Patnaik also reiterated that despite his exceptional work, Pandian was not considered his successor, stressing that the people of Odisha would determine his successor.

Patnaik gracefully acknowledged the party’s defeat in the recent Assembly elections and pledged to continue serving the people of Odisha in any way possible. He lauded Pandian’s performance as an officer, acknowledging his significant contributions during natural calamities and the COVID-19 pandemic. Patnaik stressed Pandian’s integrity and emphasized that he should be recognized for his honesty and dedication.

Patnaik’s comments come amidst discontent from a segment of party members following the party’s election setback. Addressing concerns about his health, Patnaik reassured that his health has always been stable, citing his vigorous campaigning in the heat as evidence. Despite the party’s defeat, Patnaik highlighted the accomplishments of their government and party, expressing pride in their efforts.

Patnaik expressed gratitude to the people of Odisha for their unwavering support and blessings. The BJP ended the 24-year rule of the BJD by securing 78 seats in the 147-member Assembly, while the BJD won 51 seats, and the Congress secured 14. Additionally, the CPI (M) won one seat, and three Independent candidates were successful. The BJD did not secure any Lok Sabha seats in the state, with the BJP winning 20 and the Congress one.

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