New Delhi, January 14:

A former IAS officer who has spent years in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s team and is among his most trusted aides, joined the BJP today. Arvind Kumar Sharma joined the party in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow.

Sharma is tipped for the UP legislative council and may be given an important post in the UP government of Yogi Adityanath. Elections to the 12 seats of the Legislative Council are due on January 28.

The bureaucrat was Secretary in the centre’s Ministry for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). His voluntary retirement this week came as a surprise to many but by all accounts, he is set for a significant political role in Uttar Pradesh.

The 1988 batch IAS officer of the Gujarat cadre is from Mau in UP.

Sharma worked with PM Modi not just in Delhi but also when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat before 2014. He joined him as Secretary in 2001, when Modi began his stint as Gujarat Chief Minister.

The low profile officer was a part of the Prime Minister’s Office as well as the Chief Minister’s Office, sources said. Over nearly two decades, Mr Sharma earned the Prime Minister’s trust with his results-driven approach, BJP leaders say.

When PM Modi was in Gujarat, Sharma was chief executive of the Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board. He joined the PM’s Office in 2014, when the BJP came to power after a landslide victory.

Last year, Sharma was moved to the critical MSME ministry in May, when the government was working on relief for the sector from the coronavirus lockdown.