The skeletons are slowly but surely tumbling out of the cupboard. The first high-profile ‘casualty’ after the arrest of Kiran Patel – who was arrested recently for posing as an official in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and allegedly cheating several people – is Hitesh Pandya, the additional public relations officer (PRO) in the Gujarat Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).
Interestingly, Pandya – who resigned on Friday after it emerged that his son Amit was with Kiran Patel when the latter was arrested by the J&K Police – is the longest-serving PRO in the Gujarat CMO, having taken the charge back in 2001. Now that his son has been called for questioning by the J&K Police in the Kiran Patel matter, Pandya took a moral high ground and March 31 will be his last day in office.
A SUCCESS STORY
Irrespective of the circumstances of his resignation, there is no doubt that 73-year-old Pandya has had a glittering career. He started off as a journalist in Rajkot, and has worked with chief ministers ranging from Keshu Patel to Narendra Modi to Anandi Patel, Vijay Rupani and finally, Bhupendra Patel.
Sources in the state secretariat said that it was Pandya’s steadfast loyalty to the saffron ideology that stood him in good stead. He was associated with the ABVP, the BJP’s student wing, in his youth, and was president of the Rajkot Nagar Primary Education Committee.
A one-time aide of Shankersinh ‘Bapu’ Vaghela, Pandya returned to the BJP after Vaghela merged his rebel party with the Congress. Initially appointed to the Intellectual Cell of the BJP, Pandya made his way into the CMO as assistant PRO during Keshu Patel’s tenure as chief minister.
Partnership With Modi
Pandya’s credibility and career flourished when Narendra Modi became his boss. The taciturn Pandya developed a network of his own wherein he knew the story behind the news. As a hardcore believer of the Hindutva ideology, Pandya had a sound knowledge of not just the Jana Sangh, the ABVP and the BJP, but also the offshoots such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh.
While Pandya’s Insta account boasts of photos with Modi, his Twitter handle often spews venom against the Congress. In fact, he has formed a media and publicity organisation called Nation First, while his son Amit has previously been in charge of the BJP’s social media in north Gujarat.
Even as rumours fly that he was asked to resign from the CMO, Pandya has claimed that there was no pressure on him, and that he has quit on his own so that no questions are raised against the PM and the CM.
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