Why Has Ex-IAS AK Sharma, Modi’s Trusted Aide, Joined BJP in UP?
“To bring a person like me into the party, only PM Narendra Modi and BJP can do it,” Sharma told reporters.
Arvind Kumar Sharma, a former IAS officer who had spent years in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s team and is known to be amongst his most trusted aides, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday, 14 January, in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow.
Polls to twelves seats of UP’s legislative council are due on 28 January, and Sharma is tipped to contest in these polls. Present during his inauguration were state party chief Swatantra Dev Singh and Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma.
But the question is, what could be the motive to make the PM’s trusted aide contest polls in UP? Let’s see this development through these three queries.
- Who is Arvind Kumar?
- When did Sharma work with PM Modi?
- Why has Sharma been brought to UP?
Who is Arvind Kumar Sharma?
Sharma was secretary in the government’s Ministry for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. He is from the 1988 batch of IAS officers from the Gujarat cadre. A postgraduate in political science from Allahabad University, he hails from Kajha Khurd village in Muhammadabad Gohna tehsil of UP’s Mau district.
"I come from a backward village of Mau district in Uttar Pradesh. I was working on the post of a secretary and don't have any political background. To bring a person like me into the party, only PM Narendra Modi and BJP can do it," Sharma later told reporters, Hindustan Times reported.
He opted for voluntary retirement from service on 11 January, about one-and-a-half-years ahead of his scheduled superannuation in July 2022. The central government accepted his retirement plea on 11 January.
When Did Sharma Work With PM Modi?
Sharma had worked with Modi when he was chief minister of Gujarat, before 2014. He had joined the then CM as secretary in 2001. Later, he was part of the Prime Minister’s Office as well.
BJP leaders say that for over two decades, Sharma has earned the trust of PM Modi with a results-driven approach, NDTV reported.
He joined the PMO in 2014 as additional secretary and was moved to the MSME ministry in April 2020, when the government was concentrating on relief from the consequences of COVID-19 in the middle of the lockdown, NDTV reported.
Why Has Sharma Been Brought to UP?
He is likely to contest the upcoming MLC polls scheduled in Uttar Pradesh. The polls are scheduled for 28 January, and the last date for filing of nominations is 18 January.
There is a lot of buzz around what lies ahead for Sharma with the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Sources who are privy to the developments told Hindustan Times that Sharma may be made deputy chief minister in the Yogi Adityanath government. This is particularly interesting as there are already two Deputy CMs of UP, Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma.
- The first reason is that Manoj Sinha has been appointed Governor of Kashmir. Therefore, the party needed some Bhumihars in the government to represent the community who dominate the Purvanchal. Hence, Bhumihar AK Sharma has been brought in.
- The second is discussions in some circles that there is a conflict between Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya and CM Yogi Adityanath, due to which AK Sharma has been brought in. There has been bitterness between the two ever since Adityanath became CM in 2017, as the elections were fought under the leadership of Maurya, but he was not given the coveted post. Recently as well, one saw things were not the smoothest between the two. For example, in 2019 the UP CM instructed for an examination of tenders and construction for two years under the PWD department, which comes under Maurya’s leadership. This was followed by allegations of corruption in the Lucknow Development Authority by Adityanath. He wrote a letter, action was taken and 11 contractors were removed.
- The third reason is the constant questions being raised on the BJP in UP. Questions on how the CAA movement was and is being suppressed, questions on passage of the Love Jihad Act and the arrests that have followed.
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