Lucknow Mayor Sharma May Be­come CM if BJP Wins

Di­nesh Sharma, 53, na­tional V-P of BJP, is said to en­joy PM Modi’s con­fi­dence and has sup­port of RSS

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Lucknow: It’s been 18 years since a god­man gifted him with a gar­land with a bless­ing that the “lal-batti (red bea­con car)” will never leave him. BJP’sDi­neshShar­mais near­ing the end of his sec­ond term as Lucknow mayor but the god­man’s words may con­tinue to ring true. Many say Sharma may well be­come the next CM of UP if the party wins the on­go­ing as­sem­bly elec­tion.

Sharma, 53, a na­tional vice-pres­i­dent of the party, is said to en­joy PM Modi’s con­fi­dence as well as the back­ing of the party’s ide­o­log­i­cal men­tor, RSS. The Sangh i d e o l o g ue Deen­dayal Upad­hyayaoften­vis­it­edSharma’spa­ter­nal home on Aish­bagh road in Lucknow as he was close to Sharma’s fa­ther. “I don’t ex­pect to be pro­jected as CM. In BJP, we have at least a dozen CM faces more ca­pa­ble than Akhilesh or Mayawati,” Sharma told ET on Tues­day in the liv­ing room of his of­fi­cial res­i­dence, which one en­ters af­ter re­mov­ing one’s shoes as it also has a pooja room, where the gar­land gifted by the god- man oc­cu­pies pride of place. “I am a small worker of the party. I was sit­ting in a cor­ner even at to­day’s press con­fer­ence of Arun Jait­ley.” A re­li­gious man, Sharma had a pooja room built since the bun­ga­low onUniver­si­tyRoad­was­be­lieved­tobe once haunted where pho­to­graphs could fly around. Twenty doc­toral the­ses have been com­pleted un­der Sharma, who also wears the hat of a Lucknow Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor. A stu­dent walked in with his the­sis and Sharma asked him to place it at the feet of the Hanu­man idol. “I ac­cept PhDs only on Tues­day… Lord Hanu­man’s day,” he said.

Sharma,whorose­tothe­p­ostof party V-P and be­came in-charge of the PM’s home state Gu­jarat soon af­ter the par- ty’s land­slide vic­tory in 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tion, also or­gan­ised Modi’s mas­sive rally in Lucknow on Dussehra last year. The dom­i­nant view in the party is that a “young up­per-caste face” as CM would be ben­e­fi­cial in the run-up to 2019 given KP Mau­rya, who be­longs to OBCs, was made the party state pres­i­dent.

Be­sides Sharma, Yogi Adityanath and Union tourism min­is­ter Ma­hesh Sharma are men­tioned in this light. But the for­mer is seen as a po­lar­is­ing fig­ure with a lim­ited re­gional ap­peal while the lat­ter has lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence in the BJP or­gan­i­sa­tion. Another view is that Mau­rya could well be a de­fault CM choice. A con­ver­sa­tion with Sharma in­vari­ably brings out his close bond with party vet­eran and ex-PM Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee, who hand­picked him to head the Atal In­no­va­tion Mis­sion af­ter he had served twice as the party’s youth wing chief. Va­j­payee’s last pub­lic speech was also for Sharma, when he con­tested for Lucknow’s mayor a decade ago.

On the Congress-SP al­liance, he said: “When Akhilesh’s fa­ther Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav does not like the al­liance, why will UP’s peo­ple.”

About the other SP slo­gan, ‘ Kaam Bolta Hai (work speaks)’, Sharma said “Sirf PM kakaam­bolta­hai (only PM’s work speaks)” in UP and that Akhilesh had to re­sort to ad­ver­tise­ments to show­case what lit­tle he has done. “In Rahul’s com­pan­ion­ship, Akhilesh is also los­ing his bal­ance.”

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