Lucknow: Former IAS officer Arvind Kumar Sharma — a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for two decades who took voluntary retirement this week — is set to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Thursday at the party office in Lucknow.
Sharma was serving as the secretary in the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the Modi government, after his six-year stint in the Prime Minister’s Office.
BJP Uttar Pradesh unit officials confirmed the development to ThePrint.
“He would be joining the party at the state party office in Lucknow. It’s a big joining. We are happy to have him in our party. He has immense experience in civil services, definitely he will add huge potential to the party,” said state spokesperson Naveen Srivastava.
Chandramohan, BJP state secretary in UP, said, “We have no idea as of today what responsibility he will get, the party High Command will decide about it. But he is joining the party on Thursday. Other information I can’t reveal right now.”
Sharma may get key role in Yogi cabinet
According to sources in the party, Arvind Kumar Sharma could get an MLC ticket for the soon to be held polls. He could then be given an important position in UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s cabinet in a reshuffle.
The Election Commission has issued the dates for election on 12 MLC seats in the state. The nomination process for these seats started from 11 January and will run till 18 January. The voting will be held on 28 January.
The BJP is expected to win at least 10 out of these 12 seats, which include the ones vacated by Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, party state president Swatantra Dev Singh and vice president Laxman Prasad Acharya.
While Dinesh Sharma and Singh are likely to get an MLC ticket again, A.K. Sharma’s entry has created a buzz in the UP political circles.
“Cabinet reshuffle will happen in UP soon. A.K. Sharma may get an important position in the cabinet… he could even become deputy CM. Sharma belongs to the Bhumihar community and his inclusion will give a strong message in Purvanchal,” said a state BJP official who didn’t wish to be named.
Modi’s close aide from two decades
Sharma, who hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh, is a 1988 batch IAS officer from the Gujarat cadre. He has been associated with PM Modi since the latter became the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001.
During Modi’s years in Gujarat, the ex-IAS officer was considered his key man. In that period, Sharma also held the position of Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board (GIDB) chief executive, a position that earned him the reputation of an infrastructure expert.
He joined the PMO as a joint secretary in 2014, and was elevated to the additional secretary rank in 2017.
Senior civil servants told ThePrint earlier that his early, voluntary retirement came as a bit of a surprise to them. But he now seems set to play an important role for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh politics.
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