Former Indian Administrative Service officer A K Sharma was on Friday named a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate for the Uttar Pradesh legislative council polls on Friday, a day after he joined the party, fuelling speculation that he will get a ministerial post soon.
Sharma, however, parried questions when asked to comment on the speculation.
"Whatever responsibility the BJP gives me, I will discharge with full honesty," he told PTI.
During a late-evening informal interaction with mediapersons at his official residence here, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath too remained non-committal on the issue.
He just said, "Uttar Pradesh will get help from his (Sharma's) experience."
Adityanath evaded a reply when asked whether there was a possibility of any imminent expansion of his council of ministers or more specifically, whether Sharma could be made the deputy chief minister, as is being widely speculated in political circles.
The state already has two deputy chief ministers -- Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Prasad Maurya.
Sharma earlier tweeted, 'BJP declared me candidate for Biennial elections to UP Legislative Council. I am grateful & thankful.
'Specially thankful to national president Shri Nadda ji, Hon PM Shri Modi ji, CM Shri Yogi ji and other leaders.'
Sharma, who has long been one of the trusted bureaucrats of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his tenure as Gujarat chief minister, had joined the BJP on Thursday, days after he opted for voluntary retirement from service.
He had served in key positions in the PMO after Modi became the prime minister in 2014.
In another tweet, the 1988-batch IAS officer said: 'Village born person who struggled to make it to IAS ! Making me leave GOI's Secretary post before two years of retirement and making me join world's biggest party with full honour.
'Only Narendra Modi and BJP can do it. Grateful.'
Besides Sharma, the BJP also named Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, state unit president Swatantra Deo Singh and Lakshman Prasad Acharya as its candidates for the polls.
The terms of the Dinesh Sharma, Singh, and Acharya in the state upper house come to an end on January 30.
The former IAS officer is the only new face in the party's first list of candidates that was released on Friday.
Polling for 12 legislative council seats in Uttar Pradesh will be held on January 28 and the ruling party can win 10 seats going by its brute majority in the 403-member assembly.
BJP circles speculate that A K Sharma might join the government, though there is no official word.
The state unit of the party kept a guarded silence over the future role of Sharma, whose closeness to Modi has added grist to the rumour mill.
Observers pointed out that there was precedence of top bureaucrats joining the government at the Centre, such as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
Known for delivering time-bound results, A K Sharma earned Modi's trust as the secretary in his CMO and by successfully handing the Vibrant Gujarat campaign to get investment to the state.
He was handling affairs in the MSME (micro small and medium enterprises), a crucial department that was working on the prime minister's plan for revival of the economy following the coronavirus lockdown.
A Bhumihar by caste, he had his schooling from Mau district in eastern Uttar Pradesh and did post-graduation from the Allahabad University.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party candidates Ahmed Hasan and Rajendra Chaudhary, filed their nomination papers on Friday in the presence of party president Akhilesh Yadav.