IAS officer VK Pandian got Odisha Cabinet minister rank a day after voluntary retirement as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s private secretary on Tuesday. Earlier, Pandian took voluntary retirement from government service amid buzz over his induction into the Patnaik Cabinet on Monday. He is likely to be given a significant role ahead of the assembly elections, which will be due early next year.
In a letter to the state’s General Administration Department, the Centre’s Department of Personnel and Training said his voluntary retirement has been accepted “with the waiver of the notice period as recommended by the State Government”.
Who is IAS officer Pandian?
Pandian was a 2000-batch IAS officer of the Odisha cadre. Pandian began his bureaucratic career as the sub-collector of Dharmagarh in Kalahandi district in 2002. He was appointed the collector of Mayurbhanj district in 2005, and then in 2007, he was made the collector of Ganjam. It was during his posting in Ganjam that he became close to the chief minister. Patnaik is originally from the Ganjam district. Pandian joined the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in 2011, and since then, he has been Patnaik’s private secretary. After Patnaik became the chief minister for the fifth time in 2019, Pandian was given the additional responsibility of the ‘5T secretary’ to implement some transformational initiatives in government departments.
His elevation to prominence as the close aide of Patnaik has often landed him in controversies. The controversial official faced opposition parties’ allegations of misusing his position for political gains.
On several occasions, the opposition BJP and Congress demanded his resignation asking him to officially join Patnaik’s party BJD. Pandian drew the opposition’s criticism after he went on a whirlwind tour across the state during which he held 190 meetings to hear public grievances.
Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka had said that he would not be surprised if Pandian took charge as the chief minister of Odisha before the next elections.
“…such is the power structure in Odisha, no one has clue what’s happening but everyone knows who’s controlling. VRS approved in 3 days during holidays – Super Fast,” he said in a post on X.