Bureaucrat-turned-politician VK Pandian, a close aide of former Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, on Sunday announced that he was quitting active politics, The Indian Express reported.

This came five days after Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal lost in the Odisha Assembly elections and failed to win in the Lok Sabha polls as well.

“Now consciously, I decide to withdraw myself from active politics,” Pandian said in a video message posted by ANI on X. “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.”

During the election campaign, the Bharatiya Janata Party had targeted Pandian for his Tamil identity even as Patnaik had clarified that Pandian was not his political successor and that the former bureaucrat did not contest the elections.

After the election results were announced on Tuesday, Pandian neither accompanied Patnaik to the Raj Bhavan where the latter submitted his resignation to the governor, nor attended the meeting of party leaders called by the former chief minister.

On Tuesday, the Biju Janata Dal lost the Odisha Assembly election, winning 51 out of the state’s 147 seats. The BJP won 78 seats, four more than the halfway mark of 74. The BJP will form the government in Odisha for the first time.

Patnaik had been the state’s top executive for 24 years since March 2000, becoming the second-longest-serving chief minister in India since Independence.

The Odisha Assembly polls were held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in four phases on May 13, May 20, May 25, and June 1. The BJP swept the parliamentary election in Odisha, winning 20 of 21 seats, with the Congress securing the remaining one. The Biju Janata Dal failed to win any Lok Sabha seats despite securing a 37.5% vote share. The party had won 12 Lok Sabha seats in 2019.

On Sunday, Pandian said he had the “honour to work with Patnaik”. He said that he had quit the Indian Administrative Service and joined the Biju Janata Dal in November “to assist my mentor, Naveen Patnaik”.

Pandian said that it had been his “shortcoming that I have not been able to effectively counter some of the political narratives at the right time”.

The former bureaucrat said that he had joined politics without any desire for a specific post. “Till today, the only property I have is what he inherited from my grandparents,” he said.

On Saturday, Patnaik had said that the criticism of Pandian for the party’s poor performance in the election was “unfortunate” and asserted that he did an “excellent job”, The Indian Express reported.

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