Bhubaneswar: Confirming widespread speculation, V Karthikeyan Pandian, the Chairman of 5T and former bureaucrat, officially joined the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Monday. His induction into the party took place at Naveen Niwas, in the presence of party supremo Naveen Patnaik and other key party figures. This development unfolded subsequent to Pandian’s voluntary retirement from the Indian civil services on October 23 last.
Promptly after stepping down from his bureaucratic role, Pandian assumed the position of Chairman of 5T (Transformational Initiatives) and ‘Nabin Odisha,’ holding the rank of a Cabinet Minister. The move fueled earlier speculations that hinted at his likely association with the Biju Janata Dal and the possibility of being entrusted with a significant role in the run-up to the 2024 Assembly Polls.
A 2000 batch IAS officer, VK Pandian embarked on his career as the Dharmagarh sub-collector, progressing to serve as the Collector of various districts. In 2011, he joined the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) and maintained a 12-year tenure, primarily as the private secretary to the Chief Minister of Odisha. His journey saw him assume the role of the 5T secretary in 2019.
Throughout his tenure, Pandian faced criticism from the Opposition, who accused him of engaging in political activities while holding a civil service position, specifically as the 5T Secretary and Private Secretary to the Chief Minister. Earlier this year, he drew flak for undertaking whirlwind tours to multiple districts in the state and addressing sizable public gatherings.
Reflecting on Pandian’s entry into the BJD, party leader Sanjay Das Burma expressed optimism, stating, “The vast experience of Pandian will strengthen the BJD party. We hope under his guidance, the party will become more powerful in the future.”