Who Will Succeed Naveen? Odisha’s Future Leadership Question Answered


-Subhalaxmi Dash

Bhubaneswar: For over a decade, the people of Odisha have wondered who will succeed Naveen Patnaik as Chief Minister. The answer will emerge when the time comes, determined by the ruling party. If the BJD remains in power, they will make the announcement. VK Pandian, who transitioned from administrator to politician, has declared himself the successor, sparking criticism and reactions across the state. Recently, Naveen Patnaik has finally addressed the issue, making it clear that VK Pandian is not his successor. This mirrors Biju Patnaik’s response when asked about his successor, stating that the people of Odisha will choose.

In a recent interview with a national news agency, the Chief Minister reiterated that the people of Odisha will decide his successor, emphasizing that VK Pandian is not in line for the role. He dismissed the rumors as baseless propaganda. This declaration was long-awaited by the people of Odisha, who were opposed to VK Pandian becoming Chief Minister for various reasons. Now, the question arises: if Pandian is not the successor, what will be his role in the future? The people of Odisha are eager to know.

Why is Pandian Targeted?

VK Pandian, who voluntarily retired from his IAS position, toured the state before the elections, leading programs like “Ama Odisha Nabin Odisha” and other initiatives in key districts. During these events, BJD legislators were seen assisting him, and he often delivered solo speeches, sidelining local leaders. His role remained significant during elections, being a prominent campaigner for BJD alongside Naveen. However, his prominent role has created unrest within the party, though no one openly addresses it.

Senior Leaders React

Kendrapara MP candidate Baijayant Panda commented on the Chief Minister’s statement, criticizing Pandian for controlling the party, government, and even the Chief Minister. Senior journalist and former MP Tathagata Satpathy remarked that Naveen should have clarified this earlier.

Pandian’s Silence

VK Pandian has not commented on Naveen Patnaik’s statement. Previously, he declared himself as the true heir to Naveen’s principles. Over the years, Pandian had positioned himself as a successor, gaining control over both BJD and the state administration. However, Naveen’s recent statement has shattered his dreams. Whether this is a strategy to garner votes for BJD in the upcoming elections remains to be seen.

Subhalaxmi Dash,

MA English with Communication Studies, Christ University, Bengaluru Yeshwanthpur Campus.