Criticism of Pandian unfortunate, he did excellent job: Patnaik

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Bhubaneswar, Jun 8 (PTI) BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik on Saturday said that criticism of his aide V K Pandian for the party's defeat in the Odisha assembly elections was unfortunate as he did an "excellent job".

The five-term chief minister, however, in the same breath, reiterated that Pandian, a bureaucrat-turned-politician hailing from Tamil Nadu, was not his successor and asserted that the people of Odisha would decide who his successor would be.

Patnaik said he gracefully accepted defeat in the recently concluded assembly elections and would continue to serve the people of the state in whichever way possible.

Speaking to PTI Video, "There has been some criticism of Pandian. This is unfortunate. He joined the party and has not held any post. He did not contest the elections from any constituency. I have always clearly said when asked about my successor that it is not Pandian. I repeat again that the people of Odisha will decide my successor." "As an officer, he (Pandian) did an excellent job in different fields in the last 10 years, be it during two cyclones or the COVID-19 pandemic. After this good work, he retired from the bureaucracy and joined the BJD and contributed largely by doing an excellent work. He is a person of integrity and honesty and should be remembered for that," Patnaik said.

His statement comes amid a section of party leaders and workers expressing resentment against Pandian following the party's poll debacle.

On his health condition, Patnaik said, "I want to say that my health has always been fine and will continue to be so. You have seen that I conducted hectic campaigning last month in the heat. And that should be enough to give a verdict on my health." On the party's defeat in the assembly polls, he said, "I think we have always tried and done an excellent job. We have much to be proud of in our government and the party. In a democracy, you either win or lose." "So having been defeated after a long time, we must always take the verdict of the people gracefully. I have always said that the 4.5 crore people of Odisha are my family. I will continue to serve them in whichever way I can," he said.

He expressed deep gratitude to the people of Odisha and said they have showered him with blessings time and again.

The BJP stormed to power in Odisha, ending the 24-year rule of the BJD, by winning 78 seats in the 147-member assembly. The Patnaik-led party, on the other hand, bagged 51 seats, while the Congress won 14 constituencies, the CPI (M) one. Three Independent nominees also emerged victorious. The BJD failed to win any of the Lok Sabha seats in the state, with the BJP bagging 20 and the Congress one. PTI AAM BBM AAM ACD