Speculation over the political future of former IAS officer Arvind Kumar Sharma temporarily ended on Saturday when Uttar Pradesh BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh appointed him as party’s vice-president.
Sharma, an MLC, is considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and had left the civil service to join politics. He joined BJP in January this year and was elected as MLC the next day. Since then, speculations were rife that he would be accommodated in the Yogi cabinet and would be given an important post.
There were also speculation that Sharma might replace one of the two deputy chief ministers assisting Yogi Adityanath in the government. At present Dr Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Prasad Maurya are two deputy Chief Ministers in the government.
“With Sharma being made vice-president his immediate elevation to cabinet is ruled out as BJP’s constitution calls for one man one post. But it does not mean he can never be made minister. Then, he will have to resign from the party post,” Sanjay Dixit a BJP leader explained.
In fact, as per the party statute vice-president is just an ornamental post where senior leaders are accommodated. At present Pankaj Singh, son of Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Vijay Bahadur Pathak are vice-presidents of the party in the state.
The executive powers in the party rest with the secretary.
A highly placed source in the BJP told this reporter that on Thursday evening BJP state president Swatantra Dev Singh and state secretary (Organisation) Sunil Bansal were summoned to Delhi and they returned on Friday morning. “Organisational issues were discussed and the appointment of Sharma could be linked to that meeting,” the source said.
BJP also appointed Archana Mishra (Lucknow) and Amit Balmiki (Bulandshahr) as state secretaries. Party also announced state presidents of various frontal organisations of the party.
A 1988 batch IAS officer, Sharma has been associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he became the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001. Sharma was secretary to the then Gujarat chief minister Modi and joined the prime minister’s office (PMO) as a joint secretary when Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014.
There are many political outfits in the country. I have no political connections, but such a step can only be taken by a leader like PM Modi and a party like the BJP,” he said.
Born in Uttar Pradesh’s Mau district in 1962, Sharma did schooling from his home district before graduating from Allahabad University. He did masters in Political Science before joining the civil services in 1988. As an IAS office with the Gujarat cadre, his first posting was as a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM). In 1995, he took charge as district magistrate, Mehsana. In 2001, Sharma joined Modi’s chief minister’s office in Gujarat as a secretary and remained there till 2014 before shifting to the Centre.
Those who have followed Sharma closely, say that he has also been a low-profile officer and a doer who became a go-to man for CM Modi. He is said to have coordinated the ‘Vibrant Gujarat’, a biennial investor summit that played a significant role in bringing in foreign investment to Gujarat. Sharma is also said to have played a key role in getting the Tata Nano plant moved from Singur in West Bengal to Sanand in Gujarat in 2008.