Other States

Retired IAS officer A.K. Sharma has to contend with ornamental post in BJP for now

Former IAS officer Arvind Kumar Sharma (centre) joining the BJP in the presence of U.P. Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma (third from right) and the party’s U.P. unit chief Swatantra Dev Singh in Lucknow on January 14, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Twitter/@BJP4UP

Ever since Arvind Kumar Sharma cut short his bureaucratic career and joined the BJP in January, the political corridors of Lucknow were rife with theories over his future role in Uttar Pradesh politics. Some speculated his entry into the ruling party in his home State and subsequent election as a Member of Legislative Council was a stepping stone to his induction into the Cabinet of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He could have also played second-in-command to the CM, it was speculated.

However, all such talk was put to rest last week after U.P. BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh, soon after his return from Delhi where he met the central leadership of the party, appointed Mr. Sharma as a vice-president of the State unit, an already crowded space.

Mr. Sharma became the 17th vice-president of the BJP in the State, joining the likes of leaders much junior to him such as Pankaj Singh, the son of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and Daya Shankar Singh, who was arrested for his misogynistic remarks against BSP supremo Mayawati in 2016. The BJP usually follows the philosophy of ‘one person, one post’, meaning Mr. Sharma may have to contend with an ornamental post in the organisation for now. The State goes to the poll early 2022.

 

A 1988-batch IAS officer of the Gujarat cadre, Mr. Sharma closely worked with Narendra Modi, both in the Chief Minister’s Office (Gujarat) and the Prime Minister’s Office in Delhi, for almost two decades. He held the post of Secretary in the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises when he took voluntary retirement from service ahead of his scheduled superannuation in July 2022.

He belongs to the dominant Bhumihar caste and hails from Mau, a backward district in Purvanchal.

Many observers believed that his impending placement in the Uttar Pradesh government would have served one of two purposes: either he would take charge of the State bureaucracy ahead of the election and assist Mr. Adityanath in fine-tuning welfare schemes and their implementation or he would act as a parallel power centre.

Either way, Mr. Adityanath so far seems to have successfully resisted the former bureaucrat’s direct involvement in Lok Bhawan in Lucknow.

Amid the row over West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Chief Secretary Alapan Bandhopadhyay, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, earlier this month, found an opportunity to taunt Mr. Adityanath over the perceived situation.

In a tweet, Mr. Yadav, without naming Mr. Sharma, said, “Strange is the policy of the BJP, imposing an officer sent from Delhi on the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister…” The tussle between those who made false promises of running the State with a double engine (a reference to the collaboration between the State and Central governments) goes on, said Mr. Yadav.

Upon his induction into the BJP, Mr. Sharma had praised the party and especially Mr. Modi for suddenly picking a person like him with “no political background or political legacy.” On his appointment as State vice-president, Mr. Sharma, in a letter to Swatantra Dev Singh on June 20, hailed Mr. Modi as a Vikash Purush.

“I have been a small partner in the long, successful, huge and global saga of Modiji. It is only his due to his benevolence that he provided me with the opportunity,” Mr. Sharma wrote, describing his years of service under Mr. Modi.

Mr. Sharma also feels Mr. Modi is as popular in U.P. now as he was in 2014. “To win the upcoming election, this great jannayak’s name and patronage are enough,” he said.

However, he concludes the letter by stating that the party would go to the poll under the leadership of Mr. Modi and Mr. Adityanath and win more seats than in 2017.


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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 8:42:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/retired-ias-officer-ak-sharma-has-to-contend-with-ornamental-post-in-bjp-for-now/article34899533.ece

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