In a significant development, VK Pandian, a distinguished 2000-batch Odisha cadre IAS officer, presently in the esteemed role of the private secretary to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, has opted for voluntary retirement from his distinguished service. The decision found its seal of approval from the Central government recently, paving the way for Mr. Pandian’s potential leap into the world of politics.
In a communiqué issued by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions, Department of Personnel and Training, it was elucidated, “With reference to letter No.GAD-SER1-PERS-0100-2014 dated 20.10.2023 from the Government of Odisha, on the aforementioned matter, I am instructed to convey the endorsement of the competent authority for the acceptance of voluntary retirement of Shri V Kartikeya Pandian, IAS(OD-2000) under Rule 16(2A) of the All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958, with a waiver of the notice period as recommended by the State Government.”
The political landscape in Odisha has been abuzz with conjecture regarding Pandian’s potential entry into the political realm. Often referred to as Naveen Patnaik’s right-hand man, Pandian has been the subject of accusations from the opposition, asserting that he wielded extensive influence in governing the state on behalf of the Chief Minister.
Pandian, who has retained his role since 2011 and has been a potent force in the corridors of power in Odisha, has been under the spotlight lately for his extensive travels across various districts via the state chopper. The opposition, represented by the BJP and Congress, critiqued Pandian, a native of Tamil Nadu, for purportedly breaching service condition regulations.
Commenting on the possibility of Pandian’s foray into politics, Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka expressed, “I would not be taken aback if Pandian assumes the position of Chief Minister of Odisha before the upcoming elections.”
Another prominent Congress figure and MLA, SS Saluja, extended a warm welcome to Pandian’s decision to embrace voluntary retirement, opining, “We applaud his resolution. It should have been taken sooner. We are uncertain if he will venture into the political sphere or return to his home state. Nevertheless, if he aligns with the BJD, it could be advantageous for the opposition, particularly the Congress.”
The BJP chief whip, Mohan Majhi, asserted that Pandian’s resignation signifies his commitment to furthering his political endeavors, emancipating him from the bureaucratic facade. Majhi added, “He will now engage in politics openly, without the mask of a bureaucrat. The people of Odisha may not readily embrace his transition.”
In this dynamic turn of events, VK Pandian’s retirement takes on a new dimension, potentially heralding his entrance into the complex world of politics.”