Lucknow: Former IAS officer & MLC Arvind Kumar Sharma, a close confidant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was Saturday appointed Uttar Pradesh BJP vice president.
His appointment comes months ahead of the assembly elections to be held in the state next year.
Soon after the appointment, Sharma thanked the central and state BJP leadership.
“I will continue to serve the society, state and the country under the guidance of my seniors and with the support of worker friends in the party,” he tweeted.
उत्तर प्रदेश भाजपा का प्रदेश उपाध्यक्ष बनाने के लिए पार्टी के राष्ट्रीय एवं राज्य नेतृत्व का कोटि कोटि धन्यवाद।
— A K Sharma (@aksharmaBharat) June 19, 2021
Sharma has worked with PM Modi for over two decades. He was posted as a secretary in the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) when he took voluntary retirement from the services in January this year and joined the BJP. Later, he was appointed as a member of the legislative council (MLC) in the state.
For weeks, there had been speculation that Sharma might be accommodated in Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s cabinet ahead of the 2022 elections. However, with his elevation to the party’s vice president post, all such speculations have been put to rest.
BJP leaders said that with his appointment as the state unit vice president, Sharma will now focus on Purvanchal.
“Now Sharma will focus more on Purvanchal. The way he worked in Varanasi since mid-April and managed to bring the Covid situation under control in the district is being talked about in overall eastern UP. Although he is new to politics but his management skills are undoubtedly excellent. We will use his experience in our organisation,” a BJP official, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint.
A source in the BJP said, “This decision is good for Sharma. In the tussle between Yogi and the Centre, Yogi has won finally because, at last, Sharma will not get the Cabinet berth which the party’s central leadership wannted. Yogi proves that he is a boss of the state government. Sharma has been appointed as vice president but there are already 16 vice presidents in BJP’s UP unit.”
“Sharma’s early voluntary retirement came as a bit of a surprise to many but now his role in organisation will give a strong message in Purvanchal,” a second source told The Print.
“He will be the eye and nose of the high command,” the source added.
Modi’s man credited with making Varanasi safe during Covid
In April, when the second Covid wave swept through India, the PMO sent Sharma to supervise Varanasi, which at that time was among the worst-affected districts of Uttar Pradesh.
Within a few weeks, Sharma managed to bring the situation under control in the temple town and was credited with making Varanasi a relatively safer place in the state where the virus wreaked havoc.
Sharma, who hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Mau, is a 1988 batch IAS officer from the Gujarat cadre. He has been working with PM Modi since his days as the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001.
Sharma joined the PMO as a joint secretary in 2014 and was elevated to the rank of additional secretary in 2017.
In April 2020, during the peak of the migrant crisis triggered by the Covid lockdown, Sharma was appointed the MSME secretary. Nine months later, Sharma took voluntary retirement to join the BJP.