Lucknow: Arvind Kumar Sharma, former IAS officer and a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for two decades, who took voluntary retirement earlier this week — has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Thursday at the party office in Lucknow. Also Read - Two Coaches of Jaynagar-Amritsar Express Derail in Lucknow

Sharma was serving as the secretary in the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the Modi government, after his six-year stint in the Prime Minister’s Office. Also Read - Lucknow Man Uses Garbage to Barbeque Food to Protest Against Municipal Body Over Waste Management

According to media reports, Arvind Kumar Sharma could get an MLC ticket for the soon to be held polls. He could then be given an important position in UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s cabinet in a reshuffle.

The Election Commission has issued the dates for election on 12 MLC seats in the state. The nomination process for these seats started from 11 January and will run till 18 January. The voting will be held on 28 January.

The BJP is expected to win at least 10 out of these 12 seats, which include the ones vacated by Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, party state president Swatantra Dev Singh and vice president Laxman Prasad Acharya.

While Dinesh Sharma and Singh are likely to get an MLC ticket again, A.K. Sharma’s entry has created a buzz in the UP political circles.

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.

He joined the PMO as a joint secretary in 2014, and was elevated to the additional secretary rank in 2017.