Pandian controlling even hand movements of Odisha CM: Himanta

Bhubaneswar, May 28 (PTI) Amid intense campaigning for the last phase of the polls, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday alleged that bureaucrat-turned-BJD leader VK Pandian is controlling even the hand movements of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik.

Responding to the barb, Patnaik said the BJP which is “known to make non-issues into issues” is now discussing his hand movements.

Sharing a video showing Patnaik’s hand shaking while delivering a speech at a meeting and Pandian putting it on a table, Sarma said in a post on X: “This is a deeply distressing video. Shri VK Pandian ji is even controlling the hand movements of Shri Naveen Babu.”

Pandian is considered close to Patnaik who is also the president of the ruling BJD.

“I shudder to imagine the level of control an ex bureaucrat from Tamil Nadu is currently exercising over the future of Odisha! BJP is determined is give back the reins of Odisha to the people of the state,” Sarma, who is campaigning in Odisha, said in the post.

Pandian was born in Tamil Nadu, studied in Delhi and started his career as a Punjab cadre IAS officer, but shifted to Odisha cadre after marrying an Odiya. The BJP has been calling him an “outsider” in Odisha’s politics.

In response to Sarma’s comment, Patnaik in a video message said, “I believe the BJP which is known to make non-issues into issues, are discussing my hands. This will certainly not work.”

The BJP leader’s remark came hours after Union Home Minister Amit Shah asserted in an election rally that Patnaik will be an ex-chief minister on June 4, the day on which votes will be counted.

Lok Sabha and Assembly elections are held simultaneously in Odisha. The last phase of the polls will be held on June 1.

In an X post, BJP’s IT cell head Amit Malviya on Tuesday called for a “graceful farewell to the veteran politician”.

BJP leaders including Shah earlier said that 77-year-old Patnaik should retire due to his advanced age and health issues. The saffron party also promised to make a young Odia-speaking son of the soil the CM if BJP is voted to power.

Patnaik accused the BJP of spreading lies about his health.

“There is a limit to the lies that the BJP can tell. As you can see, I am in very good health, and I have been campaigning for around a month all over the state,” Patnaik had said in a statement.

Pandian had also called the statements of BJP leaders “unfortunate and below the belt”.

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