Bhopal, Feb 15 (IANS) After a long wait, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has appointed Vishnu Dutt Sharma as the new President of the party’s Madhya Pradesh unit. The Lok Sabha MP from Khajuraho replaced Rakesh Singh, a close confidant of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
There was speculation that Jabalpur MP Singh could get another term after he organised Amit Shah’s grand rally in support of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in his constituency in January. But dark horse Sharma pipped him to the post, taking many seniors by surprise.
The name of the new state unit chief was expected to be announced soon after the state party elections in August last year. The announcement was apparently held back till the new national President took charge.
Party General Secretary Arun Singh in Delhi conveyed the appointment of Sharma to party President Jagat Prakash Nadda on Saturday.
Sharma (49), a member of the RSS, has been the national President of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the Sangh’s student wing. Being close to the RSS leadership, he was earlier pushed to be the party nominee for Lok Sabha elections from Bhopal. But resistance from senior party leaders in the state capital forced the party to move him to Khajuraho.
Sharma originally hails from Morena and has been involved with active politics for 32 years. After joining the ABVP in 1987, he rose from the lowest rung to the General Secretary’s post before becoming the national President. He was inducted into the BJP senior wing in 2013.
He also undertook a ‘padyatra’ against corruption from Balaghat. He has also been active in the movement against commercialisation and corruption in education. He fought up to the Supreme Court and successfully led the students to win the right to quality education for all. Following his agitation, the top court ordered 50 per cent reservation for merit.
Sharma did his BSc (agriculture) from Gwalior Agricultural University in 1991-92, and followed it with MSc in agriculture and agronomy from the Jawaharlal Nehru Agricultural University, Jabalpur.
Sharma had also led the Indian delegation to the Indo-China Youth Exchange Programme organised by the government of India in 2015. In 2018, the prestigious Kalam Foundation of Delhi awarded him with the Kalam Innovation and Governance Award. MIT Pune has conferred him with the Youth Leader Award.
Political observers were quick to point out the RSS preference. With Sharma’s elevation, the BJP now has Brahmins at the helm in both the legislative wing and the organisational wing in Madhya Pradesh. Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Gopal Bhargava is a Brahmin.
The new state President has given hints of an aggressive posture against the state government. “We will fight the Kamal Nath government relentlessly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Kamal Nath has congratulated Sharma on his appointment. Sharma’s first challenge would be to steer the party through the panchayat and civic elections in the wake of the Congress’ domination in recent times.