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
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.”