Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Dinesh Sharma as UP deputy CM: 'Affable' Mayor's appointment may take edge off Yogi Adityanath

Dinesh Sharma as UP deputy CM: 'Affable' Mayor's appointment may take edge off Yogi Adityanath

For most people of Lucknow, the appointment of Dinesh Sharma as one of the two deputy chief ministers in the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Uttar Pradesh has not come as a surprise since Sharma was actually being thought to be in line for the top job. For a quiet, unassuming(नम्र) man quite unlike a politician, Sharma has indeed come a long way from being a teacher in the University of Lucknow to handling matters of police and governance in this vast state.  For the last few days, Sharma's name was among those making the rounds for being in the reckoning(गणना) for the top job. Even though the chief minister's post went to Adityanath, Sharma as the choice for one of the two deputies, clearly indicates his suitability for the position. He has a long association with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing associated with the BJP, and headed its Lucknow unit in 1987. He was the state president of the Bharatiya Yuva Janata Morcha in 1993. Starting as a part-time lecturer in Lucknow University he later joined the university in 1992. He is now a professor in the commerce department and according to sources does not plan to quit the job.

Two deputy chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh - Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma (right). PTITwo deputy chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh - Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma (right). 
Born in January 1964, Sharma has done his BCom, MCom and PhD from Lucknow. He comes from a known Brahmin family of Lucknow, which has a long association with the RSS and the Jan Sangh, and his ancestral home in the Aishbagh locality. Incidentally(संयोग से), he also has a house allotted to him by the University of Lucknow and it is situated on the University Road next to the Vice-Chancellor’s bungalow. His wife Jayalakshmi Sharma, is a former IIM faculty.

His colleagues in the university say he has a friendly manner and mixes easily with people. He is a popular figure in cultural and other programmes in Lucknow and enjoys a quick chat with friends and mediapersons alike. He is as popular among Muslim clerics as well, and is well-known in localities of old Lucknow.

Sharma was first elected as Mayor of Lucknow in 2008. He stood for re-election in 2012 and defeated (पराजित) his nearest rival, Neeraj Bora of the Indian National Congress by over 1.71 lakh votes. Incidentally, now Bora is in the same party as him.

His tenure as the Lucknow Mayor has largely been marked by his efforts to uphold the dignity of the post and also to demand more powers for the mayor for which the UP Government has so far been reluctant. He his tenure as Lucknow’s Mayor has been devoid of any controversy or charges of financial irregularities, and it is well-known for him that he is a stickler for detail. As mayor, he went through all official papers thoroughly, keeping his staff of their toes. He was also president of Uttar Pradesh Mayors’ Council in 2006-2011.

His helpful nature and smiling countenance has won him many friends. He was considered very close to the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee when the latter was the MP from Lucknow. He also earned the confidence of BJP president Amit Shah during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, especially after his meticulous work heading the party’s membership campaign. It is said that Shah was highly impressed by Sharma’s methodical approach in this campaign. Sharma was also reported to be a contender for being the BJP candidate from Lucknow but eventually the seat went to Rajnath Singh. Just prior to the 2014 election, Sharma was made the state in-charge of Gujarat, a responsibility considered rather heavy as it is Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s home state. Since then, Sharma is being considered close to Modi as well. In August 2014 he became the National Vice President of the BJP.

Some months ago when Modi had visited Lucknow on the occasion of Dussehra to participate in a Ramleela organised at the Aishbagh Ramleela ground, he had specifically mention Sharma by name, referring to him as “Yashasvi (celebrated) Mayor of Lucknow.” It was considered a sign that bigger and better responsibility could be on way for Sharma.

He has also written several books and research papers and has been bestowed with the Peace Ambassador Award given by Korea Peace Foundation, as well as Most Honourable mayor given by the Government of Israel.

Sharma is neither a member of the UP Legislative Assembly or the Council. Byelections will have to be held within the next six months to provide membership of the UP Legislature to Adityanath and Keshav Prasad Maurya as well, since both are members of Lok Sabha. With Adityanath being known as a hardliner, it is now for the affable Maurya and friendly Sharma to complete the picture of a people’s government that means business.

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