Maa Tarini Temple at Ghatgaon

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Private Secretary VK Pandian takes voluntary retirement, fuels political speculation

Bhubaneswar: In a surprising turn of events, V Kartikeya Pandian, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Private Secretary and Secretary of the 5T initiative, has taken voluntary retirement from his service. This move has raised many eyebrows and sparked speculations about his future endeavors.

The Centre has approved the voluntary retirement of VK Pandian, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer belonging to the 2000-batch Odisha cadre. The Department of Personnel and Training conveyed this decision to the additional chief secretary of Odisha’s general administration department.

The Centre’s communication stated, “In reference to letter No.GAD-SER1-PERS-0100-2014 dated 20.10.2023 from the Government of Odisha on the above-mentioned subject, I am directed to convey the approval of the competent authority for acceptance of voluntary retirement of Shri V Kartikeya Pandian, IAS(OD-2000) under Rule 16(2A) of All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement benefits) Rules, 1958 with waiver of the notice period as recommended by the State Government.”

VK Pandian’s career in the Indian Administrative Service is notable for his trajectory from being a sub-collector in Dharmagarh, Kalahandi district, to his final role as the Chief Minister’s Private Secretary. He also served as a collector in Mayurbhanj and Ganjam before joining the Chief Minister’s Office in 2011.

Pandian’s tenure as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Private Secretary was marked by the development of a strong personal rapport between the two. Initially perceived as reticent and elusive, Pandian evolved over time and began leading more prominently from the front.

His influence in Odisha’s corridors of power became particularly evident through his recent whirlwind tour of different districts using the state’s official chopper. However, this drew criticism from multiple quarters, including the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, who accused Pandian of violating service condition rules.

Even members of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) expressed discontent. Expelled BJD MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, in particular, questioned Pandian’s use of the chopper, alleging that he was spending public money for personal reasons.

What makes Pandian’s retirement even more intriguing is the rampant speculation about his potential entry into politics. Being a native of Tamil Nadu, Pandian’s foray into Odisha’s political arena would indeed be a subject of immense interest. Given his long association with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Pandian’s entry into politics could have a significant impact.

In the coming days, as VK Pandian explores new avenues and perhaps takes on a political role, the political landscape in Odisha is bound to witness some interesting developments. His journey from a diligent civil servant to a potential political player will be closely watched by many, as he continues to be a key figure in the state’s political discourse.