VK Pandian: Odisha’s Key Figure in a New Role Under CM Naveen Patnaik



The political landscape of Odisha is undergoing a transformation, and at the heart of this change is VK Pandian, a former IAS officer and a close aide of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. His recent appointment as Chairman of 5T (Transformational Initiatives) with the rank of a cabinet minister has raised many eyebrows. In this article, we delve into the life and role of VK Pandian in Odisha’s political sphere.

VK Pandian’s New Role

In a surprising turn of events, VK Pandian was appointed as Chairman 5T, a role with the rank of a cabinet minister, just a day after his voluntary retirement request was approved. This new position places him directly under the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, signifying his immense influence within the state’s power corridors.

The Journey of VK Pandian

VK Pandian, a 2000 batch IAS officer, began his career as Dharmagarh sub-collector in Kalahandi district. His journey took an unexpected turn when he joined the Odisha Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in 2011. Over the years, he has become one of the most trusted aides of Naveen Patnaik, showcasing his dedication and capabilities.

VK Pandian and Naveen Patnaik

VK Pandian’s most significant role as a bureaucrat has been serving as the private secretary to Chief Minister Patnaik for over a decade. This position has given him substantial influence and authority within the state’s political and administrative framework.

The 5T Initiative

The 5T initiative, spearheaded by VK Pandian, aims to bring transparency and teamwork to government departments in Odisha. Though there is no official 5T department, Pandian has used this platform to play a pivotal role in various government projects, making him a key intermediary in government affairs.

Controversies Surrounding VK Pandian

Pandian has not been without controversy. His extensive tours to all 30 districts of Odisha, often utilizing state choppers, raised questions about the nature and intent of these visits. Opposition parties alleged that these tours resembled rallies of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), prompting concerns about his role.

BJP MP Aparajita Sarangi petitioned the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) seeking punitive action against Pandian for alleged violation of All India Service (Conduct) Rules. Some even speculated that Pandian might consider joining politics after resigning from the IAS.

Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka expressed his belief that Pandian could potentially take charge as the Chief Minister of Odisha before the next elections, highlighting the complex power dynamics in the state.


VK Pandian’s journey from a district sub-collector to Chairman 5T with the rank of a cabinet minister is a testament to his dedication and influence in Odisha’s political landscape. While controversies have surrounded his actions, his role remains pivotal in the state’s governance.

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