V Karthikeyan Pandian- the name is enough. Need we say more? He’s the chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s private secretary for official records. But, the man on the street knows he’s the power centre driving the powers that be. Reclusive yet exclusive to the CM’s interest, quiet but capable of a shake-up, understated but awed- an enigma that still puzzles.
One of the most low-key officials in Odisha’s bureaucracy, Pandian has been managing the show for years on a roll. After Pyari babu (the late Pyari Mohan Mohapatra), this Tamil officer is the one Naveen counts on for political blitzkrieg and personal engagements.
Known to be extremely media shy, Pandian is more of a quiet performer- with his unpublicised homework, he has kept the BJD and bureaucracy on a strong wicket. But, he hit the centre stage recently when an upset MP Baijayant Panda attacked his conduct. Panda refrained from naming Pandian, but his comments made it abundantly clear that he was baying for this non-Odia officer’s blood. The Kendrapara MP was not amused at the manner in which Pandian was handling political affairs of the state beyond his service code. He (Panda) went on to recall this was not the norm during the late Biju Patnaik’s tenure. Union petroleum & natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan was quick to jump the bandwagon. Pradhan said Odisha was facing a serious constitutional crisis as people were deviating from their assigned roles.
Since then, the newsmen in Odisha, especially the lensmen have been hounding on Pandian but to no avail. Pandian avoids the media, but after Jay Panda’s outbursts, the former has become even cagier. The visual media have been rooting for Pandian, to get a byte or at least a visual but the powerful officer has not obliged. No matter how hard the media tries to catch up with Pandian by following him, pursuing his office and even tracking his movements, he has remained elusive. Sources say, these days, Pandian avoids the routes where he may possibly face the media glare.
The reasons for Pandian fearing to face the media are not known. May be he feels he’s nothing more to clarify after the chief minister soft pedalled the issue. Or, he is avoiding any embarrassment for the BJD led government through his strategic manoeuvring. Or, he is waiting for the dust to settle till some other issue hijacks media attention and they blissfully forget the backroom mandarin. A few shaky moments to overcome and then its business as usual for the CM’s most trusted man.