Arun Pratap Singh
DEHRADUN: Former chief secretary of Uttarakhand Rakesh Sharma seems keen to enter into politics and contest from Kiccha assembly constituency in Udham Singh Nagar. Sources also indicate that Sharma is vying to get a BJP ticket and although he is yet to join the BJP but has already created ripples in Saffron camp.
Although, officially, Sharma is yet to join the BJP and has not even contacted the state party leadership in pursuance of party ticket from Kichha but there is already a strong opposition within the state unit of BJP against the former bureaucrat joining the party.
According to well-placed sources, Sharma has managed to meet some of the senior BJP leaders in Delhi to pursue his desire to contest election from Kichha assembly segment in US Nagar. Having been Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand and earned the reputation of a go-getter, who knows how to get the things done, under the usual circumstances, he should be welcome in any party. However, his image does not match his bio-data as he carries a baggage of hobnobbing with politicians and businessmen. Although Sharma has not been linked to any scam but time and again several allegations have been made against him.
Sources inform that he has already become active in Kichha and has started testing political waters in that constituency. He has even held some meetings with his ‘supporters’ in order to make them active. He is well aware of the fact that while his entry to the BJP may not be very difficult but to secure party ticket from Kichha or for that matter from any other constituency is not going to be easy. To add to his woes, the sitting MLA from Kichha, Rajesh Shukla is also from BJP. Hence, apparently, it may appear wrong on the part of Rakesh Sharma to seek ticket from Kichha, but there are couple of strong reasons behind his choice.
Firstly, Kichha remains one of the few seats in Uttarakhand which is dominated by migrants from outside Uttarakhand. Sharma, is himself from Himachal Pradesh and therefore does not have many options to contest from other seats. He seems to be banking on the votes of migrants from Eastern UP, Biharis and Bengal.
Secondly, for sometime now, it has been rumoured that Shukla could switch loyalty to Congress before the next elections. In that case, Sharma could hope for a clean canvas.
However ground realities are often very different from perceptions. Speaking to this correspondent, Kichha MLA Rajesh Shukla vehemently denied that he was mulling leaving the party. When reminded that he had joined the BJP some years ago by ditching the SP, he asserted that he would now stick with BJP. He added that he had been very active as MLA and was confident that the party was well aware of this fact.
While senior BJP leaders are unwilling to comment on possible entry of Sharma in BJP and his nomination from Kichha, sources say they will take to every recourse to discount such a possibility. They also admit that Sharma will be a liability for the party due to his controversial track record as public servant.
On the other hand, Digamber Singh Negi, a senior party leader, who is also a social activist, openly claimed that BJP would not allow Sharma’s entry into the party.
Meanwhile speaking to this correspondent, Sharma was somewhat evasive when asked if he was joining the BJP. He however stated that he was doing a survey of some constituencies including Kichha and claimed that he had not taken any decision on contesting polls as yet.
He added that things would crystallize in about a month’s period. “I will let you now in a month’s time, about how things shape up”, he said.