New Delhi (21.01.2021): Arvind Kumar Sharma invested his skill, mind, and talent into earning a formidable reputation as an apolitical civil servant dedicated only to his sole job of building and growing India and the state of Gujarat where he was posted as an IAS cadre officer during much of his tenure.
His hard-earned honor as a doer is so formidable that his entry into UP politics as an MLC has come to be viewed differently by different people - more because of his nickname as 'Hanuman' who has been 'Vighnnashak' in the rise and rise of Narendra Damodardas Modi from the CM to the PM.
One viewpoint, that may have been subscribed and floated by camp followers of UP CM Yogi Adityanath, sees Sharma as a sort of 'Trojan Horse' of the National Leadership. This viewpoint hinges on a certain naive belief in the intrinsic greatness of Yogi, whom, so goes the belief, the National Leadership wants to 'cut to size' to prevent him emerge as a PM candidate. To achieve this objective, so goes the argument, Sharma has been deployed in Lucknow and maybe put in charge of high-visibility projects whose quick execution may bring great laurels to Sharma. The success of these projects, it is argued, may help the central leadership to deny credits to Yogi in case the BJP wins the 2022 state assembly elections.
Such a naive interpretation, which is most crooked at the same time because it is born out of lazy thinking, seems to stem from purported fear among Yogi's camp followers. So a lot of great political theories, based on this purported fear, are circulating and being fanned by small and big-time power brokers, in Lucknow.
So, even though it was neither required nor expected of UP CM Yogi Adityanath to go out of his way and manage time to meet Sharma as soon as he landed in Lucknow, highly sensitive political commentators of the state, who love to analyze and over-analyze even the most trivial things in search for meaning and a hot story, started seeing things in Yogi finding time to meet Sharma only three days after his arrival in the state capital.
Was that a big deal? Open-source intelligence reports indicate that the decision to send off Sharma to Lucknow, like all decisions in the NaMo administration, was shrouded in secrecy till it was announced. Why secrecy? Because. without the element of surprise, a political move may lose momentum even before it takes off. Senior leaders of the government have learned it the hard way while negotiating their political agendas with influential members of the Sangh Pariwar.
And so when the surprise move was announced, Yogi was busy with his routine Makar Sakranti festival in Gorakhpur. Hence, the meeting between the CM and Sharma materialized only when it did. Maybe Yogi was upset that he wasn't taken into confidence. But the die was already cast, and the CM was left with no room to maneuver but accept the fated decision and had, perforce, come around after three days of 'mourning' to meet Sharma and assist him in doing what the latter is missioned to do.
What's Sharma's briefing? To provide BJP's national leadership with credible stories of UP's economic engines gearing up for full-throttle - stories that could be marketed for projecting the party as the most preferential client of the voters.
The necessity for such stories might have emerged following the realization in BJP that the state voters have already taken the Ram Mandir construction as given, and their "Dil Mange More". So 'the more' has to be provided. And what better way to provide the more by speeding up the construction of industrial, agricultural, and financial infrastructure - which would quickly suck up a lot of unemployed youth, provide them with gainful jobs, and thus create a favorable image for the party. And Sharma is said to be really good at this kind of job.
For Yogi, the problem is he can't prevent Sharma from executing his mission. Nor can he lord over him as is his wont.
This situation had not arisen if Yogi had performed. Since the economic situation of the state remains as dismal as before, it is argued the BJP has turned extremely vulnerable to any negative and politically disturbing publicity on the deteriorating law and order situation. Opponents have been quick in seizing the opportunity and have been profusely quoting the accelerated rates of heinous crimes like rape and murder to tarnish the ruling party's image and credibility. Although Yogi is credited with cracking down on criminals and their patrons with a heavy hand, he has not achieved the desired level of success. This rung the alarm bells in the North and South Blocs.
Further, it is also argued that the BJP has come to recognize that wherever it has allowed influential Sangh components to dictate terms on the appointment of CMs, the party has come to grief in the next elections. The examples of Jharkhand and Haryana are cited in this regard. While in both states, the National BJP leadership didn't favor Raghubar Das and ML Khattar, they were imposed. The non-performance of Das led to BJP's rout in the hill state, and equally unimpressive performance in Haryana significantly cut the tally of seats for the party in the previous state election whose results compelled it to go for an alliance to form the government.
In UP too, Yogi was said to have been imposed against the wishes of the national leadership. Now the result is out there for everyone to see. Frightened by the emerging political scenario of the state a year ahead of the scheduled 2022 election, the national leadership of the ruling party, therefore, decided to send off its 'Hanuman the Vighnanashak' to save its lordship over Lucknow, the town that, according to one school of mythology, was set up by none other than Lakshaman - to save whom Hanumanji was tasked to bring the Sanjeevani Booti.
Therefore, the move, for all intents and purposes, is said to have been driven by the calculation to not take an avoidable risk, not take chances, and finally not take the voters for granted. And that's it.
(By Mukul Kumar Shukla & Rakesh Ranjan