Politicians, bureaucrats queue up to meet ex-IAS officer who may have key role in UP politics
Lucknow’s National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) guesthouse that normally remains empty has been abuzz since former bureaucrat Arvind Kumar Sharma has checked in there with his family. Hundreds of visitors, including ministers, lawmakers, bureaucrats, and top police officers, have been coming to meet him daily as he is expected to have a key role in Uttar Pradesh’s politics and governance, people aware of the matter said.
Sharma, a close aide to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, filed his nomination papers on Monday for the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council polls after joining the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on January 14. Sharma is expected to stay in Lucknow till the results of the polls are out.
The biennial elections to the Council’s 12 seats will be held on January 28.
The people cited above said Sharma has had a packed schedule as he receives visitors daily from morning till night. Sharma meets the visitors in a hall of the guesthouse or an ante-room, depending on the status of the visitors and the requirement of the situation, they added.
The people said about 150-200 visitors have met Sharma daily ever since his arrival. He also has a personal secretary from Gujarat to assist him with his appointments.
“Visitors keep pouring in every day from morning till 10 pm...many of them being SPG [Special Protection Group] protectees,” said one of the persons cited above. “Sometimes he visits the secretariat, the BJP office...to meet people there but when he is at the guesthouse, he is always surrounded by visitors.” He was scheduled to stay at the guest house until January 20 but the reservation can be extended.
Sharma, a 1988 batch Indian Administrative Service officer of the Gujarat cadre, is from Uttar Pradesh’s Mau district. An upper caste, Sharma has worked for nearly 20 years with Modi as the Prime Minister and earlier as Gujarat chief minister. He took voluntary retirement this month for the service two years before his due retirement.
“ Why would he take VRS [voluntary retirement] from the service two years before his regular retirement only to become MLC [member of legislative assembly]...,” asked a BJP leader, who did not want to be named. “Certainly, he will be given some important assignment in the government and this explains why so many politicians and bureaucrats are queuing up at the NTPC guesthouse to see him.”
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