The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday named UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh, UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, vice president Laxman Prasad Acharya and former IAS officer Arvind Kumar Sharma as its candidates for the biennial elections to 12 legislative council seats in Uttar Pradesh.
Among the contenders, Sharma is an interesting pick who is said to be a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for two decades. He took voluntary retirement this week to join the BJP.
After his six-year stint in the Prime Minister's Office, Sharma was serving as the secretary in the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the Modi government. Reports state that he completed his schooling from Mau and post-graduation in political science from Allahabad University.
Sources told News18 that he may become a minister and be given an important position in UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's cabinet in a reshuffle. They said that he is likely to lead some crucial portfolio around infrastructure and 'Make in India'.
According to reports, 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, The Print reported. He joined the PMO as a joint secretary in 2014, and was elevated to the additional secretary rank in 2017.
The Election Commission of India on Monday issued notification for the biennial election. The MLCs whose terms are ending include UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, Chairman of UP Legislative Council Ramesh Yadav and UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh.
Polling will be held on January 28 and counting of votes will be done one hour after the completion of polls as per established practice. Nominations for the biennial polls can be filed till January 18 and scrutiny of the same will be held on January 19. The withdrawal of names can be done till January 21.
Of the 12 MLCs whose tenure is expiring, six are from the Samajwadi Party (SP) including Ramesh Yadav, Ahmed Hasan, Ashu Malik, Sahab Singh Saini, Ramjatan Rajbhar and Virendra Singh. Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, UP party chief Swatantra Dev Singh and Laxman Acharya are from the BJP.
The tenure of BSP's Pradeep Jatav and Dharamveer Ashok is also coming to an end besides that of Naseemudin Siddiqui, who left the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and joined the Congress.
The poll panel had earlier issued guidelines to be followed during the entire election process. These guidelines state that every person shall wear a face mask during all election-related activities. The chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh has been directed to depute a senior officer from the state to ensure that instructions regarding Covid-19 containment measures are complied with while making arrangements for conducting the election.