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Odisha's political puzzle: VK Pandian goes 'missing' amid Naveen Patnaik's BJD electoral setback

His absence during Naveen's visit to Raj Bhavan to tender his resignation and the subsequent meetings with party members, including the newly elected MLAs, at Naveen Niwas, has raised eyebrows.

Odisha political puzzle: VK Pandian goes 'missing' amid Naveen Patnaik's BJD electoral setback AJR
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First Published Jun 6, 2024, 1:34 PM IST

VK Pandian, widely perceived as a linchpin behind the ruling Biju Janata Dal's (BJD) setback in the recent assembly and Lok Sabha elections, has conspicuously remained out of the public eye since the election results were announced on Tuesday, sparking speculations and questions among political observers and the public.

Pandian, who was frequently seen accompanying outgoing Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on official visits, notably distanced himself from public engagements on Wednesday.

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His absence during Naveen's visit to Raj Bhavan to tender his resignation and the subsequent meetings with party members, including the newly elected MLAs, at Naveen Niwas, has raised eyebrows. "Pandian babu was not present in the meeting. Naveen babu discussed with us and asked us to keep working for the people of the state," revealed an MLA, preferring anonymity.

For over two decades, Odisha's political landscape has been synonymous with Naveen Patnaik's leadership. However, as Naveen formally stepped down after an unprecedented 24-year tenure as chief minister, questions arise regarding BJD's dismal performance in the elections.

Political analysts and insiders have identified various factors contributing to BJD's electoral downfall. They cite lapses in candidate selection, sidelining of party veterans in decision-making, and overreliance on VK Pandian as critical issues.

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Pandian's absence during crucial events, despite his erstwhile omnipresence alongside Naveen, has underscored the intrigue surrounding his role in BJD's electoral debacle.

As BJD grapples with introspection following its failure to secure a single Lok Sabha seat and its reduced tally in the assembly elections, senior party figures admit to marginalising leaders with grassroots connections during candidate selection, a departure from past practices.

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