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New BJP, TDP Ministries’ Oath Taking in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh on June 12, Pandian Quits Active Politics

New BJP, TDP Ministries’ Oath Taking in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh on June 12, Pandian Quits Active Politics

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NEW DELHI, June 9: The swearing-in ceremony of the first BJP Government in Odisha has been rescheduled to June 12 instead of on Monday, party leaders Jatin Mohanty and Vijaypal Singh Tomar confirmed on Sunday.

The new Telegu Desam Party (TDP) ministry headed by the party chief Chandrababu Naidu is also scheduled to take oath on June 12.

In Bhubaneswar, Mr Mohanty said the first legislature party meeting of the newly elected members to elect a leader to be sworn-in as the chief minister is now set for June 11. He explained that the postponement was due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitments. Mr Modi will be busy with his own swearing-in ceremony on Sunday and meeting party MPs the following day.

During the election campaign, Mr Modi had said Odisha’s first BJP Government would be sworn in on June 10. BJP State president Manmohan Samal had also confirmed this on Saturday. However, the decision to change the date was taken on Sunday, party sources said.

Meanwhile, suspense still remains over the new chief minister. Senior BJP leader and newly elected MLA Suresh Pujari rushed to New Delhi, triggering speculation that he may be among the main contenders for the top post, sources said.

Mr Pujari, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Bargarh in the 2019 polls, won the recent election from Brajarajnagar Assembly constituency. His supporters believe he was called to New Delhi for discussions with central leaders. After returning from New Delhi, Mr Samal said the parliamentary board of BJP would take a decision on the chief minister at its meeting.

The BJP secured a comfortable majority in the 147-member Assembly, winning 78 seats. The party went to the elections under the leadership of Mr Modi without naming a chief ministerial candidate.

Meanwhile, in a setback to the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), bureaucrat-turned-politician V.K. Pandian and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s close aide has decided to quit active politics after the party’s defeat in both the state Assembly and Lok Sabha elections which were held simultaneously in Odisha and was also blamed for the party’s poor showing.

Mr Pandian, who quit the civil service and joined the BJD in November last year, released a video message in which he said he comes from a humble family and a small village. He said his childhood dream was to join the IAS and serve the people. “(From) the day I set foot in the soil of Odisha, I have received immense love and affection from the people of Odisha,” he said, adding that he has tried to work very hard for the people across the state.

Mr Pandian said it has been an honour to work for Naveen Patnaik, who would have reached the milestone of being the country’s longest-serving Chief Minister if the BJD returned to power. “The experience and learning I got is for a lifetime. His grace, leadership, ethics and above all, the love for the people of Odisha always inspired me. His expectation from me was to implement his vision for Odisha and we successfully crossed many milestones in health, education, poverty reduction, ports, investment, women empowerment, infrastructure and also in temple and heritage projects,” he said.

“…Now consciously I decide to withdraw myself from active politics. I am sorry if I have hurt anyone on this journey. I am sorry if this campaign narrative against me has had a part to play in BJD’s loss. My apologies to the entire Biju Parivaar including all the ‘karmis’ for this,” the BJD leader said in a video message on Sunday. Mr Pandian said his only intention to join politics was to assist Mr Naveen Patnaik (the outgoing chief minister) and that is why he did not contest the elections. He said, “I will always keep Odisha in core of my heart and my Guru Naveen Babu in my breath.”

Mr Pandian has been under fire for the party’s defeat in the elections while Mr Patnaik came to his defence calling the criticism unfortunate. “It has also come to my notice about some criticism of Mr Pandian. This is unfortunate. As an officer he did excellent job in many fields, helping in two major cyclones and COVID-19 epidemic in our State in past 10 years,” said the BJD chief.

(Manas Dasgupta)


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