BHUBANESWAR: Sujata R Karthikeyan, IAS officer and wife of bureaucrat-turned-BJD leader V K Pandian, went on a six-month leave amid a recent surge in resignations of retired officers holding key posts in the state govt in the aftermath of BJD’s electoral defeat.
According to a notification issued by the general administration department on Wednesday, Sujata has been granted ‘childcare’ leave for a period of six months from May 31 to Nov 26 to take care of her daughter, who is preparing for her Class X board exams.
Earlier, former chief secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra stepped down from his role as chief adviser to the chief minister’s office. Similarly, R Balakrishnan, a retired IAS officer, vacated his position as chief adviser for special initiatives, while Manoj Mishra relinquished his duties as officer on special duty to the CM.
The timing of Sujata’s grant of leave is significant as it came against the backdrop of Pandian’s absence in public since the declaration of poll results on June 4 and the mounting criticism he has been facing from many BJD supporters and people for the party’s dismal show. Pandian, who took the plunge into state politics after taking voluntary retirement from IAS in Oct 2023, became BJD’s chief election strategist.
Ahead of polls, the Election Commission on May 2 ordered Sujata’s transfer from the Mission Shakti department to a ‘non-public dealing department’ following allegation by the BJP that she was actively working as a BJD agent because of the influence of her husband. She was later posted in the finance department as a special secretary.
Under Mission Shakti, the state govt formed over 6 lakh self-help groups comprising around 70 lakh women and ensured bank loans to take up various livelihood activities. The Naveen Patnaik-led govt had placed high importance on the scheme, ostensibly recognising the crucial role of rural women in its continued electoral success. These women, known for their unwavering support to the BJD, had been a key factor in the party’s consecutive poll victories in the past.

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