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"Ridiculous, holds no weight": Naveen Patnaik dismisses allegations of VK Pandian "controlling the state"

Bhubaneswar: Dismissing allegations made by BJP leaders of VK Pandian "controlling the state", Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that these are ridiculous and hold no significance.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, on being questioned if his close associate VK Pandian acts as a gatekeeper and whether he takes all decisions on his behalf, Patnaik said, "That is ridiculous and I have said it often before. This is an old allegation and it holds no weight".
On BJP making such accusations against his close confidant, Patnaik suggested that such allegations stem from the BJP's increasing desperation due to their declining popularity both in Odisha and nationally.
"I see it that they are getting more and more desperate, particularly as their popularity is waning in the country," Patnaik asserted.
Addressing queries about his party's future leadership, Patnaik assured that the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is focused on serving the people of Odisha.
"They see how the party is being run and the party is being run for the service of the people of Odisha and will continue to do so," Patnaik affirmed.
The Odisha CM also clarified that the future of his party and the question of his successor will be decided by the people.
"I have said repeatedly that the successor will be decided by the people of the state. That is the natural result of these things," Naveen Patnaik said.
VK Pandian, a 2000 batch Indian Administrative Service officer who was Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's private secretary until recently, faced allegations of "controlling the state".
Posting a video of Naveen Patnaik's election speech, BJP's Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed that VK Pandian appeared to be controlling the hand movements of the Odisha CM.

Earlier, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who is contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Odisha's Sambalpur Lok Sabha constituency, alleged that not even a leaf in Patnaik's government can move without Pandian's permission.
"As per my information, no one is allowed to enter Naveen Niwas except one person (VK Pandian). Not even a leaf can move without his permission. There is no telephone in his room, nor is there any Odia channel in his room. I say with responsibility that the Odia employees at Naveen Niwas himself are saying that, What condition has been made of the Chief Minister of Odisha," Pradhan said.
Meanwhile, Patnaik is confident that his party will return to power in the state for a sixth term and that the BJD will win a lion's share of the 21 seats in the Lok Sabha from the state. Patnaik said his priority was to continue to ensure the welfare of the people.
"We have been progressing in several fields, on education, on health. agriculture on irrigations of controlling national calamities programs for women all that we have gone we have done a great deal and we intend to do much," he said.
The assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Odisha are taking place simultaneously, in four phases, from May 13 to June 1. The counting of votes will be held on June 4. Naveen Patnaik (77) has been serving as the Chief Minister of Odisha since 2000 and is the second-longest serving CM of any Indian state. He is seeking a record sixth term in power in the state.

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